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Amplifying the Call for Fair Food at Wendy’s

March 9, 2016

On March 2, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) launched their Workers’ Voice Tour, calling on Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program (FFP). Wendy’s is the last holdout of the five major fast food companies (McDonald’s, Burger King, Yum Brands, Subway, and Wendy’s) that refuses to sign onto the program. A number of major companies, including Walmart, have signed onto the FFP, which Janice R. Fine, a labor relations professor at Rutgers, called “the best workplace monitoring system I’ve seen in the U.S.” in a 2014 article by New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse.  

To stand in solidarity with CIW and the workers, I attended an action in New York City, the first stop on the Workers’ Voice tour. The momentum for workers’ rights was undeniable. The action began with a rally at which CIW announced that it is launching a national boycott of Wendy’s until the company is willing to come to the table and discuss joining the FFP. Following the announcement and rally, we took to the streets to march to the office of Nelson Peltz, the board chairman of Wendy’s.

The Workers’ Voice Tour and national boycott mark an important escalation in the efforts to ensure that Wendy’s hears the voices of the workers and steps up to respect workers’ rights. Time and time again, CIW has tried to engage with Wendy’s to get them to join the FFP. Yet, each time Wendy’s has turned its back on workers and their allies. As CIW has outlined, Wendy’s has tried a number of excuses to avoid calls for them to join, including buying tomatoes from Mexico instead of Florida so they could claim the FFP no longer applies to their purchases. In effect, Wendy’s has opted to run from their responsibility to respect the human rights and dignity of farmworkers.

Wendy’s also recently adopted a new supplier code of conduct. However, this code of conduct does not involve an enforcement mechanism and it does not give a voice to the workers. CIW launched the Workers’ Voice Tour to do just that: make sure Wendy’s hears the voices of the workers and to amplify the pressure on Wendy’s to join the FFP.

Respecting the human rights of workers is not something that Wendy’s can simply avoid by moving their tomato purchases out of Florida. I hope you’ll join us in standing with CIW in their efforts by taking action in the upcoming Workers’ Voice Tour actions and the national boycott. For more information, visit ciw-online.org/workersvoice — and stay tuned for more on this issue from UUSC!

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