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NYC Council Women’s Caucus to Wendy’s Board Chairman Nelson Peltz: “It is here, in New York City, where your office as Chairman of Trian Partners — one of Wendy’s largest shareholders — is located. And so it is here, in New York City, our city, where the power to bring Wendy’s into the Fair Food Program exists.”

For many years, the Women’s Caucus of the New York City Council has played a critical leadership role in the fight against sexual harassment in the workplace, both within the City’s five boroughs and beyond its borders.  With the advent of the Time’s Up Movement and the Women’s March in recent years, the Caucus’s voice and visibility on women’s issues, from pay equity to gender-based violence, has only grown stronger.  

And now, just this week – in the wake of last month’s massive Fair Food mobilization in Manhattan and the introduction of a resolution in the New York City Council calling on Wendy’s to join the award-winning Fair Food Program without further delay – the Women’s Caucus has stepped squarely into the fight to end sexual violence in the fields!  

On Thursday afternoon, the Women’s Caucus released a powerfully-worded, public letter to Wendy’s Board Chair Nelson Peltz calling on the hedge fund billionaire to “exercise leadership and encourage Wendy’s to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers; Fair Food Program (FFP).”  Councilwomen Carlina Rivera, Margaret Chin, Karen Koslowitz, Adrienne Adams, Helen Rosenthal, Alicka Ampry-Samuel, and Diana Ayala praised the Program’s unique and proven ability to uproot the “scourge” of sexual violence, stating unequivocally that the FFP is “widely recognized as the single most effective program combating sexual abuse in agriculture today.”  And the Councilwomen left no doubt about where they stand in this growing campaign: “We, the undersigned, stand with farmworker women and men across the country, and urge you to join us.”  You can read the text of the letter in its entirety at the conclusion of today’s post. 

CIW’s Lupe Gonzalo (right) stands with NYC Council Member Carlina Rivera.

The Women’s Caucus’s letter underscored what can only be seen as a troubling trend for the fast-food giant: New York City is embracing the Wendy’s Boycott, and that embrace is growing stronger every day.

When NYC Council Member Mark Levine joined marchers last month at a rally outside Peltz’s Park Avenue offices, he announced the filing of the City Council resolution, and sent a clear message to Wendy’s on behalf of the resolution’s sponsors in the process: 

“New Yorkers believe farmworkers harvesting the food we eat should labor in humane and respectful conditions. That’s why I, along with Council Members Brad Lander and Helen Rosenthal, have co-sponsored a City Council resolution urging Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program.  The great city of New York is home to many Wendy’s restaurants throughout the five boroughs and is the only major fast-food chain to not participate in the Fair Food Program.  Wendy’s, New Yorkers expect better.”

Today, the Women’s Council took that message to Mr. Peltz one step further:

This past month, a resolution was introduced in the New York City Council calling on Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program and support farmworkers’ human rights. It is here, in New York City, where your office as Chairman of Trian Partners — one of Wendy’s largest shareholders — is located. And so it is here, in New York City, our city, where the power to bring Wendy’s into the Fair Food Program exists.

Clearly, time is not on Wendy’s side in this ever-expanding battle.  Farmworkers from Immokalee have fought for nearly three decades to win the groundbreaking changes they have built through the Fair Food Program.  A generation of farmworkers has come and gone in that time, and as long as there are still fields in this country where workers are forced to suffer outrageous abuse – from sexual violence to modern-day slavery – without recourse to the Fair Food Program’s proven enforcement powers, another generation, and another, and another will continue that fight.  

How much longer can Wendy’s stand against the tide of history?  How much longer can Trian – and, perhaps more importantly, those investors who do business with Trian, Wendy’s largest shareholder – refuse to join the rest of the fast-food industry and support the Presidential Medal-winning Fair Food Program?  What possible answer can Mr. Peltz give to satisfy investors concerned about Wendy’s inexplicable stand against the “single most effective program combating sexual abuse in agriculture today”?

The longer Wendy’s waits, the more formidable the campaign grows in The City That Never Sleeps.

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