Amidst massive Concert and Parade for Fair Food, Student / Farmworker Alliance declares national Wendy’s boycott!
If you had the pleasure of joining farmworkers from Immokalee for last week’s Parade and Concert for Fair Food, you will remember just what a sweet celebration it was. The parade was resplendent with flapping golden flags and colorful floats representing the farmworker community, their steadfast consumer allies, and the hard-won rights farmworkers now enjoy in the Florida tomato industry under the Fair Food Program. Onlookers watched with smiles and cheers as floats rolled by celebrating the New Day in Florida’s fields… The right to work free of modern-day slavery, sexual harassment, and physical abuse… The right to have a voice on the job without the fear of being fired… The right to safe conditions, shade, and drinking water… The right to a dignified wage.
Without missing a beat during the event, Fair Food activists pivoted from celebrating these incredible gains to working to protect and expand them. The streets of St. Petersburg echoed with the call to Publix and Wendy’s to step up to the challenge of real social responsibility and join the Fair Food Program (and as just one of the ripple effects, a new online Wendy’s petition was launched following the action — take a moment to sign on and share the petition if you haven’t already!).
No one sent that message to Wendy’s louder than the students and young people who flooded into St. Petersburg for the action. And when it recently came to light that Wendy’s had decided to stop purchasing altogether from Florida’s tomato fields — from the very industry consumers and human rights observers around the globe are celebrating for its unparalleled advances — that was the final straw.
So representatives from the Student / Farmworker Alliance (SFA) took the stage at the Concert for Fair Food and, in front of thousands of onlookers, and shared their verdict: If Wendy’s is going to boycott the Fair Food Program, then students will boycott Wendy’s!
So you can have it in their own words, here below is an excerpt from the letter that SFA sent to Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick a week before the big announcement:
In January 2013, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and their allies launched a public campaign calling on Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program. Since then, countless farmworkers and Wendy’s customers around the country have delivered letters, attended shareholder meetings, marched to your headquarters, convened press conferences, and called your offices, only to be rebuffed or ignored.
During that same time, two companies — including the world’s largest retailer, Walmart — joined the Fair Food Program. In total, thirteen corporate produce buyers have committed to help ensure that poverty and abuse are no longer a characteristic of Florida agriculture.
Instead of backing efforts that are eradicating decades-long abuses in the fields, Wendy’s has chosen to evade responsibility time and time again: most recently by shifting tomato purchases outside of Florida. This will only strengthen the resolve of the CIW and its allies to continue organizing. By circumventing a proven solution to human rights abuses, your company is choosing exploitation in tomato industries elsewhere rather than actively supporting justice, dignity, and respect for farmworkers.
But we will not waste more time on the disproven excuses and lack of transparency behind your business. Instead, we wish to notify you that, after two years of your empty rhetoric and sidestepping of accountability, the Student/Farmworker Alliance will declare a student boycott of Wendy’s by the end of March 2015…
At the concert, the electrifying declaration drew cheers — and of course, a round of Wendy’s chants — from the many, many young people present, and news of the boycott spread like wildfire in the national press. The Latin Post was first in line, publishing an excellent recap of the event:
Ozomatli, La Santa Cecilia Rock Out for Farmworkers’ Rights, Students Declare Nationwide Boycott of Wendy’s for Not Joining Fair Food Program
You might want to think twice if you’re planning on sinking your teeth into a Wendy’s burger, for its ethics might leave a bad taste in your mouth.
This past weekend, thousands of students from around the country rocked out and rallied together in St. Petersburg, Florida at the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Concert for Fair Food. Determined to be heard and get their point across, the Student/Farmworker Alliance (SFA) also used the stage as their platform to declare a nationwide student boycott of fast-food chain Wendy’s.
The concert, which featured Grammy-winning artists Ozomatli and La Santa Cecilia as well as Son Solidario and Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics, was “the latest development in a two-year campaign calling on Wendy’s to help eliminate farmworker poverty and abuse through the Fair Food Program (FFP).”
“We are proud to be part of the Concert for Fair Food in support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the rights they’ve won for farmworkers,” La Santa Cecilia told Latin Post before the Concert for Fair Food. “We honor the dignity of their work in the fields that sustains us all. We hope that our fans will be inspired by the concert to get involved in this beautiful movement and demand that Wendy’s and Publix join the Fair Food Program.”
The highly regarded FFP was reportedly referred to as “the best workplace monitoring system… in the U.S.,” a statement declared on the impressionable front page of the New York Times.
“The student-led boycott will be launched at Ohio State University and will snowball over the coming months as dozens more universities adopt the boycott,” according to an official press release. “The action comes as part of the larger student-led campaign, ‘Boot the Braids,’ which is aimed at ending Wendy’s contractual relationships with universities around the country until the company joins the FFP.”
“All of Wendy’s fast food competitors have committed to buy only from farms where farmworkers are guaranteed basic human rights, and yet Wendy’s has so far rejected that responsibility,” said Amanda Ferguson, a member of the Student/Farmworker Alliance at the Ohio State University. “Now we’re declaring a nationwide student boycott and we will continue to escalate our efforts until Wendy’s joins the Fair Food Program.” […]
[…] “With ‘Boot the Braids’ and the Wendy’s student boycott, we are reminding Emil Brolick of the power students have in the Campaign for Fair Food,” Ferguson added. “The Concert for Fair Food was not only a celebration of the transformation taking root in the agriculture industry as a result of the Fair Food Program, but also a call to action going out to thousands of students across the country to boycott Wendy’s until they, too, are part of the solution.” read more
And this is only the beginning for Wendy’s. As anyone in the Fair Food Nation knows, the fast-food chain will be fighting a losing battle so long as they attempt to evade their responsibility to a generation of young people who deeply value true transparency, ethical business practices, and a verifiable commitment to change.
Make sure to stay tuned on the Student / Farmworker Alliance’s website for updates on the Wendy’s boycott in the weeks to come. And in the meantime, make sure you sign the brand-new petition calling on Wendy’s to commit to respecting farmworkers’ human rights!