National boycott of Wendy’s spreads westward during Month of Outrage…

Intrepid students from the University of Michigan post up outside of the campus Wendy's, urging passing students to join the national boycott
Students from the University of Michigan post up outside of the campus Wendy’s, informing their fellow students about the hamburger chain’s refusal to join the Fair Food Program and winning new pledges to the national boycott.

“We will not hold back, and we will continue raising our voices until we are heard and the rights of workers are respected…”

From Day One of the Month of Outrage, Wendy’s has been inundated with a flood of actions, articles and op/eds from the Fair Food Nation, every protest and every story laying the foundation for the growing national boycott of the fast food chain.  Today, we bring you three more highlights of this exciting first month of the boycott, this time from the states of Texas, California and Michigan.

First up: the Midwest.  Students at the University of Michigan — a key campus in the Student/Farmworker Alliance’s Boot the Braids campaign — gathered for a march through campus, equipped with homemade artwork and accompanied by beautiful spring weather:


In addition to passing out flyers and signing up many more fellow students for the boycott, these student leaders took a stand outside of Wendy’s (as pictured at the top of the post) while a delegation headed inside to deliver a manager letter.  While waiting outside, the marchers were able to carry out an impromptu presentation with incoming customers on the conditions faced by farmworkers in the U.S., the unprecedented success of the Fair Food Program in improving those conditions, and Wendy’s unconscionable refusal to do its part to protect workers’ fundamental human rights in its supply chain.

Meanwhile, in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas — a proud hub of activity in the Fair Food Nation, from the beginning of the Campaign up until today — over 40 allies from the Valley joined CIW’s Lupe Gonzalo and SFA’s Natali Rodriguez for a high-spirited picket outside of Wendy’s. 


During the action, community leader Rosa San Luis from the Centro de Trabajadores Fuerza del Valle shared a heartfelt message of solidarity on behalf of the vast community of farmworkers and low-wage workers of the region:

“We stand in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers because their struggle is our struggle.  The struggle of farmworkers is the struggle of domestic workers, construction workers, restaurant workers, warehouse workers.  All of our struggles are connected because the only thing we want is for our rights as human beings to be respected.  The only thing we are asking is for [Wendy’s] to sign the agreement… We will not hold back, and we will continue raising our voices until we are heard and the rights of workers are respected.”

Local reporters at The Monitor caught wind of the action, and came out to see why, exactly, consumers were calling for a boycott of the popular fast food chain.  Here is their excellent article in full:

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 6.44.42 PMOrganizers of national Wendy’s boycott lead protest in the Valley

McALLEN — Local human rights advocates joined thousands of farm workers, students, and consumers nationwide Wednesday afternoon when they stood outside a Wendy’s restaurant protesting for fair wages, and an end to modern-day slavery.


The protest was organized by Fuerza Del Valle in collaboration with Coalition of Immokalee Workers.  The coalition is a worker-led human rights organization that has been promoting social responsibility and fighting human trafficking in South Florida for more than 20 years.

It initiated the national boycott against Wendy’s last year after the company refused to join the coalition’s Fair Food Program, which promotes fair wages and establishes a code of conduct designed by farm workers.

“What we are asking these companies is for them to pay one more cent per pound of tomatoes that they pay at these farms where we work and also for there to be a code of conduct that includes zero tolerance to sexual abuse and to modern slavery,” said Guadalupe Gonzalo, an organizer with the coalition.

Lupe Gonzalo at last month's march through Palm Beach, Florida, during the Workers' Voice Tour
Lupe Gonzalo (right) at last month’s march through Palm Beach, Florida, during the Workers’ Voice Tour

Gonzalo has been fighting against Wendy’s and other food companies since 2005 when Yum Brands, a Fortune 500 company that owns Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, sided with the coalition and adopted its program. Today, there are 14 major food retailers participating in the program, including Whole Foods and Walmart.

“This is something that is improving the quality of life of farm workers for the first time in decades,” Gonzalo said, “For the first time, workers can be treated as human beings and not as money-making machines, which is exactly what Wendy’s is doing.”

In February 2015, Wendy’s, the third largest hamburger chain in the United States, said it no longer purchased tomatoes from Florida, so it did not have to join the coalition’s Fair Food Program, according to Natali Rodriguez, labor activist with the Student Farm Worker Alliance.

“They are purchasing some of their tomatoes in this farm in Jalisco, where not too long ago there was a case of modern-day slavery where over 400 people were being enslaved,” Rodriguez said. “There were children in situations of forced labor, women experiencing sexual violence, and wage theft in that particular farm is really common.”

Javier Rodriguez, manager of the Wendy’s at 1108 E. Jackson Ave, said he was not aware of the national boycott against his employer and had no idea where they purchased their tomatoes. He denied further comment and directed all questions to the corporate office. Several attempts to reach a Wendy’s spokesman went unanswered.

Joe Martinez, 50, of Mercedes was driving out of the restaurant’s drive-thru Wednesday afternoon with his 22-year-old son Jonathan, who said they were also not aware of the boycott or the coalition’s efforts in South Florida.

“We didn’t know or else we would not be buying food here,” Martinez said. “If everybody is doing it, why don’t they want to be a part of it? There is no reason why they should not be doing it.”

“I understand sometimes companies have to buy from an outside source if they are not growing here at this time or a crop fails or something, but if it’s available here in the U.S., they should buy it here,” added his son, Jonathan.

This was not the first time protesters rallied against Wendy’s in the Valley. Fuerza del Valle has been at the forefront of the local boycott and has traveled to South Florida to join the coalition in local protests. This was the first time, however, that coalition members joined local advocates in a demonstration.

Gonzalo and Rodriguez were also a part of the Human Trafficking Symposium held Monday and Tuesday at South Texas College, where they spoke about their 20-year plight for human rights and encouraged consumers to demand fair wages by joining their cause.

“For us, it’s important to work together with other organizations because it’s a way for all of us to encourage people to stand up and fight for their rights,” Gonzalo said. “If we don’t fight for our rights, no one else will because no one worries about worker’s rights.”

Finally, over on the West Coast, members of the Food Chain Workers Alliance, who had gathered in Los Angeles to look ahead at how worker groups throughout the food chain will support each others’ campaigns in the year ahead, took a break from planning and jumped straight into action!


Boasting representatives from the International Labor Rights Forum, the Pioneer Valley Workers’ Center, Migrant Justice, the Northwest Arkansas Workers’ Justice Center, the Comite de Apoyo para Trabajores Agricolas (CATA), the Workers’ Justice Center of NY, and Rural and Migrant Ministry, the FCWA delegation was joined by local Californian student and community allies in a march to Wendy’s.  Even after being cut short by the manager inside, the group’s spirits were hardly dampened.  On the contrary, they pledged to take the boycott back to their communities — from Arkansas to New York and Vermont — until Wendy’s signed onto the Fair Food Program.


And that’s a wrap for today’s reports!  If you’re in South or Central Florida, make sure to join farmworkers from Immokalee for the Month of Action’s final Florida mobilization in Sarasota this coming Sunday, May 1st.  Get in touch at workers (at) for more information — and stay tuned for more in the growing campaign against Wendy’s!