“Wendy’s ignores essential farmworkers” Week of Action reverberates throughout the Fair Food Nation!

Fair Food allies in over two dozen cities — from San Francisco, California to Essex, Vermont — bring the fight for farmworker justice directly to Wendy’s restaurants and top business partners!   

What a whirlwind week for the Fair Food movement!  As thousands of farmworkers received their COVID-19 vaccine last week in Immokalee — after months of advocacy for an equitable vaccine rollout for essential agricultural workers by the CIW, Alliance for Fair Food, Partners In Health and the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida — hundreds of Fair Food allies took to the streets in cities across the country to make their voices heard  in the Wendy’s Boycott.  Conscious consumers from coast to coast demanded that Wendy’s guarantee protections for farmworkers in their supply chain from human rights violations and unsafe working conditions by joining the Fair Food Program. 

Today, we’re sharing photos from the many vibrant demonstrations and manager letter drop-offs that took place during last week’s “Demanding Dignity for Farmworkers” Week of Action, all with a unified message echoing in over two dozen cities: Wendy’s ignores essential farmworkers.  Students, people of faith, grassroots organizations, and community members from all across the country organized coordinated, colorful protests — with matching bright yellow banners — outside of their local Wendy’s restaurants in support of the national Wendy’s Boycott and the fight to ensure farmworkers’ safety and dignity while harvesting the nation’s food.  

Bay Area Fair Food members stationed themselves outside the corporate headquarters of Uber Eats to raise the profile of the Deliver With Dignity campaign, which calls on large delivery service companies to end their business relationships with Wendy’s over the fast-food chain’s failure to commit to the Fair Food Program. 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country in the Big Apple, members of New York Fair Food (below) demanded that Trian Partners, Wendy’s largest institutional shareholder and office of Wendy’s top decision-maker Nelson Peltz, honor its claims of social responsibility and join its fast-food competitors in embracing the Fair Food Program.  Trian even sent in special security to receive the delegation, following years of watching Fair Food allies marching, fasting, and rallying in force for farmworkers’ human rights on their doorstep! 

And right here in the CIW’s home state, stalwart Fair Food allies in Southwest Florida — who have had their hands full with the CIW’s twin campaigns this past year, calling for critical health protections for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and police reform following the wrongful killing of Immokalee farmworker Nicolas Morales — stood alongside CIW in demanding Wendy’s join the Fair Food Program.  Below is an excerpt from local news coverage of the spirited protest by reporter Thaddeus Mast for the Naples Daily News:

‘Use our voices.’ Protestors challenge Wendy’s to protect farmworkers

Julia van Fleet of Naples joined 20 others in support of farmworkers Sunday. The group stood in front of a Wendy's at Immokalee Road and Airport-Pulling Road. Wendy's has not joined the Coalition of Immokalee Worker's Fair Food Program, which is aimed to prevent farmworker abuse.

Brightly painted protest signs filled the sidewalk in front of a North Naples Wendy’s on Sunday afternoon as residents chanted support for farmworkers and spoke against the fast-food chain.

The tomato-shaped signs are a hallmark of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group that champions farmworker rights. The organization created the Fair Food Program which “ensures basic human rights in the farms for farmworkers,” said Uriel Perez, faith coordinator with the Alliance for Fair Food.

These include the right to work free from wage theft, verbal or physical abuse, zero tolerance policy for sexual violence and forced labor, Perez said.

Fourteen major food retailers including Walmart and McDonald’s are in the program along with 90 percent of Florida tomato growers. Wendy’s has not joined, prompting protests against the company. Perez said there are 30 planned actions across the country this week.

“The only way to achieve our goal is to use our voices,” he said. “They all came to the table with these kinds of actions.” […]

Perez said Wendy’s is not fully supporting farmworkers without joining the Fair Food Program. The pandemic amplified the problem with thousands of workers testing positive for COVID-19, he said.

“While farmworkers are getting sick, Wendy’s is making a profit,” Perez said. “This is an opportunity for Wendy’s to be on the side of essential workers.

If Wendy’s would sign on to the program, it would need to change suppliers to those already in the Fair Food Program or urge its current greenhouse suppliers to get involved. Perez said this is how the program expands. […]

From all of us here in Immokalee, we send a heart-felt thanks to all who took part in last week’s actions, whether you organized an in-person protest or joined hundreds in making calls and sending emails to turn up the heat on Wendy’s.  And a special shoutout goes to DC Fair Food, Migrant Justice, Florida State Student/Farmworker Alliance, Sustainable Souls of Tampa Bay, Casa Maria Catholic Worker and First Congregational UCC of Downers Grove, who were key to making the week a success!
The message from consumers to the hamburger giant was crystal clear: Wendy’s has a responsibility to protect farmworkers in its supply chain from human rights violations, and the new danger faced by essential workers in the food industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic only underscores that responsibility.  The FFP is the gold standard in worker protection today, with monitoring and enforcement mechanisms proven to ensure that farmworkers work free from discrimination and violence, and earn a fairer wage for their essential labor.  As long as Wendy’s continues to sidestep the Fair Food Program and keep consumers in the dark about the inner workings of its supply chain when it comes to farmworkers’ human rights, our movement will only grow louder, and stronger. 
Be sure to check in for more news on the Wendy’s Boycott front coming very soon!