Ms. Foundation to Wendy’s: “Show the necessary leadership and sign a Fair Food Agreement”…

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Today’s open letter to Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick calls Fair Food Program “imperative to improving working conditions for women farmworkers who face sexual harassment and assault…”

The Ms. Foundation for Women, the storied champion of women’s rights and a longtime supporter of the Fair Food movement, stepped into the ring today on the Wendy’s Campaign in a very public way.  In a powerful letter to Wendy’s CEO, Emil Brolick, Ms. Foundation extolled the unprecedented advances in farmworker women’s rights sweeping through the tomato fields of Florida since the inception of the Fair Food Program three years ago.  They also shared their disappointment with Wendy’s for refusing to recognize and support the “transformational change and improvement in the lives of women whose employers have adopted this agreement.”   

Here below is the letter in full:

Emil J. Brolick
President and CEO
The Wendy’s Company
One Dave Thomas Boulevard. Dublin, OH 43017
By email and post

May 21, 2014

Dear Mr. Brolick:

ms_foundation_logo_detailThe Ms. Foundation for Women stands with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and urges Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program in support of safe and fair conditions for women working in the tomato fields of Florida.

The Fair Food Program is imperative to improving working conditions for women farmworkers who face sexual harassment and assault in their workplace.  Sexual violence and harassment in the fields is pervasive, with 80 percent of women farmworkers reporting such abuse.  Women in the field report being stalked, harassed and sexually assaulted.  Those women who attempt to use company channels to redress sexual violence or harassment in the workplace find an “allow it or you’re fired” response or experience retaliation and an escalation in harassment and abuse.

The Fair Food Program has created transformational change and improvement in the lives of women whose employers have adopted this agreement.  The producers of the award-winning PBS Frontline exposé, “Rape in the Fields,” declared the Fair Food Program to be the most effective sexual harassment prevention program in the U.S. agricultural industry.  Through a mix of market incentives for growers and a high quality workplace monitoring process, the Fair Food Program brings together buyers, growers, workers and consumers to improve work conditions and support efforts to prevent attacks.

In addition, the Fair Food Program is changing farm practices that for decades had created substandard wages and working conditions for farmworkers.  In the three years since implementation across the Florida tomato industry, the Fair Food Program has educated nearly 20,000 workers about their basic human rights and alleviated some of the economic disadvantages faced by farmworkers and their families. 

The Ms. Foundation is joining the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to ensure that a woman’s basic right to a safe work environment free of sexual harassment is protected.  As key contributors to our economy and their families’ wellbeing, these farmworkers deserve no less.

Wendy’s customers expect safe, secure and fair working conditions for the women and men who work hard to supply food for its restaurants.  Therefore, we join the Coalition of Immokalee Worker’s call for Wendy’s to show the necessary leadership and sign a Fair Food Agreement.

Because sexual harassment and assault in the workplace is so egregious, and often so difficult to address, the Ms. Foundation for Women is encouraging its supporters and allies to join us in promoting this highly effective approach that has been designed in significant part by the very women it protects.  We will support the Fair Food Program and its empowerment of women until every woman is safe at work in the fields.

Sincerely,

Julie F. Kay
Ms. Foundation for Women 

For decades, the Ms. Foundation has provided a vehicle for women’s voices to be heard on the pressing issues of the day.  With this letter, the Ms. Foundation has added its considerable voice — and those of its vast network of supporters and allies — to the fight for fundamental human rights for farmworker women in Wendy’s supply chain.  

Yum Brands, McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, and Chipotle have all taken a stand for a more modern, more humane food industry.  Wendy’s stands alone among the leading fast-food brands in rejecting the human rights standards established by the Fair Food Program.  In a  sector with so many effectively identical alternatives, that is not a good place to be.

You don’t get more customers by being less ethical.  But you can lose customers that way, and the longer Wendy’s continues to reject the Fair Food Program, the more consumers — like the Ms Foundation’s countless supporters — learn about its unconscionable position, and the more likely that outcome will be.