Hundreds of callers flood Wendy’s headquarters in follow-up to petition!

Consumers call on Wendy’s to “be on the forefront of change” by joining the Fair Food Program!

Last week, our friends at launched an appeal to Wendy’s consumers to pick up the phone, call the hamburger giant, and let CEO Emil Brolick know (or better yet, remind him) that “we won’t give up until Wendy’s joins the Fair Food Program.”

One week later, the results are in, and to no one’s surprise… the Fair Food Nation rose up in response and made itself heard loud and clear at Wendy’s corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ohio! Consumers from all over the country called Mr. Brolick to convey their unequivocal support for fundamental human rights — and their growing impatience with Wendy’s decision to turn its back on farmworkers.

Many callers took a few minutes to report on their experience, providing a sense of the response — or lack thereof — they encountered on the call (apparently the vast majority of callers were unable to speak to any company representatives and instead were obliged to leave a message, though some managed to speak to “a real person”). The reports paint a powerful portrait of consumer disappointment with a valued brand, and the brand’s apparent disdain for unfiltered feedback from its consumers:

Emil Brolick, Wendy’s CEO 
and former Taco Bell CEO

“I asked for Mr. Brolick but received a voice mail. I stated my name and that I ate at Wendy’s yesterday. I gave him the loc. of the store and what I purchased. I further stated that today I rec’d an email regarding his refusal to accept the tomato policies and because of his stance, I cannot return to Wendy’s. I let him know how often I go to Wendy’s and how disappointed I was in his stance. I also let him know that my friends and I seriously care about how we spend our money and that we have pledged only to spend our money in establishments with fair labor policies, therefore, I had no other recourse but to forward this ‘tomato policy’ info. to family and friends. I ended the call asking him to seriously reconsider the tomato policy.”

“Mr. Brolick back when he was the president of Taco Bell said, Taco Bell is proud to be a leader in this industry but can’t do it alone. He understood the importance of commitment. All of Wendy’s major competitors including Chipotle, McDonald’s, and Burger King have joined the Fair Food Program. Wendy’s is being left in the dust and consumers are realizing that.” — J.B.

“Left a lengthy voice mail about Wendy stepping up to the plate and being sure to be on the forefront of positive change and human treatment of workers who pick their tomatoes and other farm workers… not on the side of corporate greed as they are. I advised I will not be stopping at Wendy’s ever again until they start to exhibit some good conscience.” — G.J.

“I was told I was going to be directed to Mr. Brolick but instead got an answering machine for someone else. It is shameful that Wendy’s refuses to engage with its customers, first by rejecting any letters, and then by redirecting phone calls.” — N.M.

“I shared that my grandfather loved Wendy’s and that we need to treat workers well; it’s the duty of American business to care for the people who serve it.” — G.P.

“I asked to speak to Mr Brolick. Transferred through – Deana Shraeder’s voice mail came up I left a message re: their tomato purchasing policies, that their claims of buying through the Fair Food program was not good enough & stressed the need for all workers to make a liveable wage. I told them I am disappointed that I can’t pick Wendy’s for my burger & salad purchases until this is rectified even though they are my favorite choice.”

“She was friendly as hell, actually. I was kind of shocked to get a real person that I only had to wait a couple of seconds to speak to. I told her that I wanted Wendy’s to sign on with the CIW, that I would definitely not eat at a Wendy’s again until they did, and that I was spreading the same sentiment among my friends and colleagues. She told me that she’d be ‘glad to pass it on.'”

“I ended by letting them know that every time I get a hankering for fast food and I see a Wendy’s there is also a competitor right next to it that I know has signed off on the CIW Fair Food Program and that I will continue to drive by Wendy’s to get my food at their competitors who I know have pledged to pay and treat the farm workers fairly.” D.D.

“I said I was a loyal customer, loved their chili, and was sad that I couldn’t have it until they decide to help the workers with a small increase in the price per pound of tomatoes.” — D.S.

“In my opinion you [Wendy’s] have a 50’s era mindset. My decision after consideration of all sides is not to eat in any of your restaurants until you realize this is 2013.” — J.L.

“I really am a good customer of Wendy’s but I won’t be if they continue like this.” — B.H.

“No more Wendy’s for me.” — S.S.

“They volunteered no information, understanding, or sympathy for the workers. It seems like they must have been getting a lot of calls because as soon as I mentioned Sum of Us, the operator interrupted me and sent me straight to customer service, and they acted like they had heard it all before. The pressure is on.” — M.K.

A big thanks to everyone to took a moment to call Wendy’s! If you haven’t had a chance, but still would like to put in your two cents, head over to for more information on how to call.

In other news, a powerful article was published last Friday by, asking the same question as many of the consumers who called into corporate headquarters last week: Will Wendy’s Do the Right Thing by Farmworkers?

Centered on an interview with CIW’s Lupe Gonzalo — recently recognized by the National Council of Churches Poverty Initiative as a mother “fighting poverty and alleviating suffering in [her] community” — the article explored the importance of the Fair Food Program and echoed consumers’ puzzlement over Wendy’s refusal to join the Program. Here is a brief excerpt:

Will Wendy’s Do the Right Thing By Farmworkers? 
June 14, 2013


“[…] One of the biggest problems facing female farmworkers across the nation is the high incidence of sexual assault and harassment in the fields: “…something that was really commonplace for decades in this industry was sexual abuse and sexual harassment on the job — something that female workers experienced. Women often felt there wasn’t any recourse. Felt there weren’t any protections from that kind of abuse. Scared. Scared to say anything — had they spoken up, they would have lost their jobs for bringing up such a complaint.”

That’s different under the Fair Food Program, which mandates a zero tolerance policy for sexual assault and harassment, and demands that farms be accountable for abusive foremen and other personnel. If they don’t adhere to the code of conduct, they’ll no longer be certified, which means they lose out on major buyers. The Fair Food Program essentially protects already existing legal rights, encouraging workers to speak up when they experience abuse.

Wendy’s, however, doesn’t seem to think it needs the Fair Food Program. In a series of press releases, the company has made a number of claims about being “under attack” from the CIW, and then claims it’s participating in the Fair Food Program even though it isn’t. Gonzalo notes that:

Without joining the Fair Food Program, Wendy’s will not be paying out that penny per pound. Equally more important, without joining the program, there’s no monitoring, or enforcement, or transparency. The third party we’ve created, the Fair Food Standards Council, to enforce and make sure corporations are living up to the program…Wendy’s is obviously not subject to that oversight. More than anything, the program works because it has teeth, and growers know that buyers will only buy from them if they respect the code of conduct and the fair food standards.” read more

The pressure is certainly on. Fair Food activists are brewing up some exciting actions for the summer — so stay tuned!