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“As people of faith… we pledge to join the boycott of Wendy’s until Wendy’s commits to justice for the workers that make your profits possible.”

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Religious leaders from across faith traditions, including author Brian McLaren, speak out in support of the Fair Food Program in 2014

Religious leaders from across faith traditions, including author Brian McLaren, speak out in support of the Fair Food Program in 2014.

Major religious leaders from more than 12 faith traditions call out Wendy’s leadership in searing letter…

Adding to the growing drumbeat of support from the faith community, over twenty powerful religious leaders have penned an open letter to Wendy’s leadership, just ahead of tomorrow’s shareholder meeting in Ohio.  Unequivocal in their support for the Fair Food Program and the new era of human rights for farmworkers it has delivered, denominational presidents, bishops, ministers, rabbis and authors are standing together to urge Wendy’s leadership to get with the Program. 

From their positions within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Church of Christ, the Catholic Church, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and other mainstream faith communities, these spiritual and religious leaders hail from a diverse set of institutions that represent millions upon millions of followers.

Here is the letter in full:

Dear Emil Brolick, Nelson Peltz, and the Board of Directors of The Wendy’s Company,

As leaders of diverse national faith bodies who care deeply about human rights, we are writing to call on Wendy’s to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) Fair Food Program. In March, the CIW launched a national boycott of Wendy’s in response to the fast food company’s decision to reject a proven human rights program that is preventing violence, wage theft, sexual assault, and slavery in the Florida tomato industry and beyond. We as people of faith endorse the CIW’s boycott of Wendy’s.

As you know, the CIW has worked with growers and corporations to build the Fair Food Program, an innovative collaboration that today is transforming the agricultural industry. This Program ensures farmworkers will labor in safety and with respect, enables growers to be as proud of their working conditions as their products, and allows buyers to assure their customers that the produce they purchase has been fairly brought to their shelves.

Rev. April Blaine speaking at a rally in front of Wendy's headquarters in 2014

Rev. April Blaine speaking at a rally in front of Wendy’s headquarters in 2014

The faith bodies we represent have been supporting this effort for many years through endorsements, resolutions and letters to corporations, 14 of which have now joined the Program. We have been calling on Wendy’s to join the FFP since 2013. We have joined farmworkers in countless vigils, marches, protests, and phone calls to your headquarters asking Wendy’s to respect the dignity of farmworkers. We deplore the conditions under which farmworkers were forced to work and must still work in fields not participating in the Fair Food Program — conditions of abuse, sexual harassment, and in extreme cases, modern-day slavery.

We are distressed that Wendy’s has not only refused to join the FFP, but has stopped buying tomatoes from Florida altogether following the implementation of the Program there.  Rather than join a program that ensures respect for workers’ human rights, Wendy’s took its tomato purchases to Mexico, where workers continue to confront sexual harassment, child labor, and even slavery without access to remedy. Specifically, as revealed in an investigative piece from Harper’s Magazine last month, Wendy’s currently sources from a Mexican grower that was the subject of a massive slavery prosecution in 2013.  What is more, your corporation promotes its own supplier code of conduct that contains no effective mechanisms for worker participation or enforcement. And of the five largest fast food companies, Wendy’s is the only one not participating in the FFP. Wendy’s has opted to profit from farmworker poverty and abuse by deriving a cost advantage over its competitors and continuing to provide an alternative market outside the FFP for less reputable growers.

As people of faith, we call upon you to join fourteen other buyers including McDonalds, Yum! Brands, Burger King, and Walmart and millions of consumers nationwide in protecting the human rights of farmworkers through the Fair Food Program – and we pledge to join the boycott of Wendy’s until Wendy’s commits to justice for the workers that make your profits possible.

Sincerely,

Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Rev. Tony De La Rosa, Interim Executive Director, Presbyterian Mission Agency, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Carol Winkler, 2015-2018 Moderator, Presbyterian Women

Sara Lisherness, Director of Compassion, Peace & Justice, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ

Rev. Dr. Traci D. Blackmon, Executive Minister, Justice & Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ

Rev. Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association

Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Rabbi Elyse Wechterman, Executive Director, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

Most Rev. Steven M. Rosczewski, Presiding Bishop of the Communion of Synodal Catholic Churches

Rev. Dr. William Schulz, President and CEO, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN, Executive Director, Pax Christi USA

Brian D. McLaren, author and theologian

Dianne Aid, President, The Episcopal Network for Economic Justice

Paul Alexander, President, Evangelicals for Social Action

Christopher G. Kerr, Executive Director, Ignatian Solidarity Network

Patrick Carolan, Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network

Rev. Dr. Lee Barker, President, Meadville Lombard Theological School (Unitarian Universalist)

Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, President, Professor of Unitarian Universalist Ministry and Heritage, Starr King School for the Ministry 

Marya Axner, Regional Director, New England Jewish Labor Committee

Deaconess Darlene DiDomineck, incoming Interim Executive Director, Methodist Federation for Social Action

Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary, National Council of Churches

This letter is yet another significant wave in what has quickly become a rising tide of mobilization among people of faith to boycott Wendy’s.  

Wendy’s leadership can rest assured that the signatories will not be satisfied with sending one letter, or simply cutting Wendy’s out of their own daily routine.  Rather, they will be spreading the boycott far and wide among the millions of followers in their respective communities from the various pulpits and platforms they command.  As the growing chorus of support among consumers of conscience grows ever louder in Wendy’s ears (and the boycott cuts ever deeper into their profits), the only question is when the fast food giant will realize what their competitors have known now for years:  The future of social responsibility means an end to human rights abuses in the supply chain, not a PR-driven mirage of change — and 21st century consumers will accept nothing less.

OSU students outside Wendy

CALL TO ACTION: National Wendy’s Call-in Day this Wednesday, 5/25, as farmworkers, allies prepare to protest at Wendy’s annual shareholder meeting!

THIS WEEK: Call (614)-764-3327 and give Wendy’s a piece of your mind on Wednesday ahead of major action outside of Thursday shareholder meeting!Three years ago in New York, a Wendy’s shareholder, Mr. Bradford L. Grazier — who had received his first shares of the major hamburger chain over fifty years before — stood up in the annual shareholder meeting to address then-CEO Emil Brolick, saying:“Honestly, the potential bad publicity between the folks here and outside on the street does not do our company much good. I’m wondering what the downside is of signing the darn agreement and doing something that I think would make a […]

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1.4 million reasons why Publix should join the Fair Food Program…

Top Publix tomato supplier fined $1.4 million by Department of Labor, ordered to pay $150,000 in back wages; DOL: “Red Diamond Farms and its owner willfully disobeyed federal labor laws and exploited vulnerable, low-wage workers. These actions are unacceptable.”We’ll begin this post with a bit of history:“If there are some atrocities going on, it’s not our business.”Those were the words of Publix spokesperson Dwaine Stevens back in December, 2010, in response to questions from the press about the discovery of a brutal farm labor slavery operation in Publix’s suppliers’ fields.  Mr. Stevens went on to add:“Maybe it’s something the government should get involved with.”The government […]

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Signed, sealed, delivered! 300+ Jewish leaders endorse Wendy’s boycott in stinging letter to Nelson Peltz…

Jewish leaders to Wendy’s: “Better wages and human rights are non-negotiable ingredients of a just, sustainable food industry…”Following the launch of the Wendy’s boycott in March, staunch Fair Food ally T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights — an organization that has been a leader in the Wendy’s campaign since its launch in 2013 — put out a call to its individual members to join the organization’s endorsement of the boycott.  Unsurprisingly, the animated network of Jewish human rights leaders answered the call with a resounding Yes!  Since March, over 300 members of T’ruah — as well as scores of members of the Massachusetts Board of […]

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Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), representing millions, becomes the first major Christian denomination to endorse the Wendy’s boycott!

“We stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in their longstanding struggle for fair labor practices in the agriculture industry …”In an historic act of support, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) moved last week to endorse the boycott of Wendy’s, becoming the first major Christian denomination to formally commit to carry forward the boycott until Wendy’s joins the CIW’s Fair Food Program!Representing nearly 2 million Christians nationwide, the church has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the CIW since the earliest days of the Campaign for Fair Food.  Over the past several months as the CIW’s Wendy’s campaign evolved into a national boycott, the […]

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LIVE: Official new Wendy’s Boycott website up and running, including a call for endorsements!

Resources, action ideas, and more now online at the beautiful new boycott website…While Fair Food activists were taking to the streets in cities across the country during the Month of Outrage in April, back here in Immokalee the online action hub for the Wendy’s boycott was quietly being built, pulling together all the resources necessary for tens of thousands of consumers to make their voices heard in the Wendy’s campaign.  And this week, the beautiful new site is ready for its debut!Front and center on the new site: Pledge to join the boycott!  If your name is not yet on the list, make sure to […]

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Rabbi takes to blogosphere to endorse Wendy’s boycott, issue moral call to action in Jewish community…

“We may come to understand that a boycott, like the plagues, is an enactment of a truth: dramatic demonstrations of might and power and determination are often required before we can break free…”Following the example of his fellow faith leaders, Rabbi Jacob Lieberman — another member of the growing legion of tomato rabbis — took up his pen to issue a powerful call to action in the Wendy’s Boycott late last month.  Equal parts theological reflection and inspirational rallying cry, Rabbi Lieberman’s editorial likened the CIW’s struggle for human rights in the fields today to the Jewish people’s “exit from the physical and spiritual oppression of forced […]

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Huffington Post: “Farm Workers Are Taking On Poor Pay And Conditions — And Winning”

In-depth article lifts up unprecedented success of Fair Food Program, Worker-driven Social Responsibility as the “model that’s going forward…”Last week, amidst all the April buzz around the Wendy’s boycott, the Fair Food Program and the Worker-driven Social Responsibility model that underlies its success were the subject of the newest chapter in the Huffington Post’s Farming in America series. Hailing the FFP as the long-awaited solution to the grinding poverty and powerlessness that farmworkers have faced for decades, the article draws on industry experts as well as workers at the ground level to discuss the unparalleled impact of the Program in Florida […]

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Back to the future: Wendy’s shows 20th century disdain for consumers’ intelligence with 21st century marketing push…

Wendy’s new ‘buy American’ campaign flies in the face of the company’s shift of tomato purchases away from Florida and the Fair Food Program to Mexico and the human rights crisis in the fields there…Wendy’s has launched a flashy new marketing campaign, and the astounding contradiction at the heart of its pitch suggests a deeply cynical misreading of consumers’ capacity — of your capacity — for critical, independent thinking.  But before we continue, here below is a television ad, aired earlier this month, promoting the new campaign:  The ideals behind the campaign — supporting American industry, buying fresh, local ingredients — are indeed noble.  The American beef industry should […]

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“Enough with Wendy’s excuses…!”

Support for national boycott of Wendy’s building as Month of Outrage protests take place in Florida and beyond…Since the launch of the Wendy’s Boycott Month of Outrage earlier in April, the Fair Food Nation has stepped up and turned up the heat on the hamburger giant.  Today, we have a photo report from the past week’s wave of actions in Denver, Washington DC, and right here in Florida!First up, in Fort Myers this past Sunday, longtime Fair Food allies joined over 40 farmworkers and their families for this month’s second Southwest Florida mobilization. Proudly representing the faith community were members of […]

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Freedom Network, national leader in fight against modern-day slavery, makes its voice heard in Wendy’s Month of Outrage!

Nearly 50 Freedom Network members march on Wendy’s in Chicago…The Freedom Network USA to Empower Trafficked and Enslaved Persons is the oldest national network/alliance of organizations dedicated to fighting and eliminating human trafficking and modern-day slavery.  The CIW was a founding member of the network, which formed in 2001 and today counts 39 organizations in dozens of states, from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York City, to the Southern Poverty Immigrant Justice Project in Atlanta and the Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking in Los Angeles.  The past three recipients of the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts […]

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Strawberries! Get your Fair Food Program strawberries here!…

Fair Food Program strawberries set to hit select Whole Foods stores this week, carry FFP label on the clamshell…Whole Foods: “The Fair Food Program is the leading worker welfare success story in the U.S.”The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Whole Foods Market, and Sunripe Certified Brands announced a groundbreaking initiative today, expanding the Fair Food Program into the strawberry industry and debuting the beautiful new Fair Food Program label in Whole Foods produce aisles as early as this week.  And for those readers who might not recognize the name Sunripe Certified Brands, you probably recognize them as Pacific Tomato Growers — that’s […]

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Now we know: Explosive new article in Harper’s Magazine reveals Wendy’s tomato supplier in Mexico…

… And the supplier’s history is not pretty: Bioparques was the subject of a massive slavery prosecution in 2013.Harper’s Magazine released an explosive new article this week in its online pages that did some digging into Wendy’s tomato supply chain in Mexico, and what Andrew Cockburn, Harper’s Washington Editor, found out was in fact quite disturbing.  [Unless you haven’t visited this site in a while, you’ll recall that Wendy’s stopped buying tomatoes from Florida altogether following the implementation of the Fair Food Program here and shifted its purchases to Mexico.  Wendy’s decision to abandon its Florida suppliers was one of the principal reasons for […]

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“If you’re going to make an impression, come to the place where the chairman is on holiday”…

Ethel Kennedy joins workers from Immokalee, consumers from across Florida, as Workers’ Voice Tour rolls through Palm Beach calling on Wendy’s board chair and part-time resident Nelson Peltz to support farmworkers’ fundamental human rights!Marking the end of an historic ten-day tour — a tour that started with the declaration of a national Wendy’s Boycott in New York City and continued with a massive march through Wendy’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio — farmworkers and their consumer allies saved the best for last on Saturday with a 2.7-mile march on the exclusive island community of Palm Beach, filling the streets with over 500 exuberant marchers calling on Wendy’s to join […]

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Wendy’s vs. Wendy’s…

… Or how Wendy’s own code of conduct demonstrates that the hamburger giant really doesn’t care about human rights in its supply chain.Last week, in a post entitled “A Battle for the Soul of Social Responsibility,” we took a long look at Wendy’s new supplier code of conduct and its provisions on labor rights, and we reached this conclusion: “When it comes to human rights, it seems that voluntary compliance is just fine with Wendy’s.”  When you compare Wendy’s vague “expectations” for ethical behavior from its suppliers and equivocal approach to consequences for suppliers who fail to meet those expectations, Wendy’s new […]

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Must-listen radio: New story on Fair Food Program’s entry into strawberry industry takes you into the fields as history is made…

The Fair Food Program breaks new ground in Florida’s troubled strawberry industry and the Center for Investigative Reporting is there to cover the exciting new story!…  The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) has a mission: to “engage and empower the public through investigative journalism and groundbreaking storytelling in order to spark action, improve lives and protect our democracy.”  Toward that end, CIR produces an award-winning radio show and podcast by the name of “Reveal,” that is distributed nationally and that does the kind of long-form radio reporting that takes the listener deep into an issue in a way only radio can.Fortunately for […]

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