Workers, consumers to take Fair Food message directly to Wendy’s corporate leadership in New York, Ohio, and Palm Beach;
Tour to demand real, Worker-driven Social Responsibility from fast-food holdout, not more unenforced promises of human rights…
This coming March 2-12, farmworkers and thousands of consumer allies will be mobilizing to bring Wendy’s — the lone holdout among the big five fast-food companies of Yum Brands, McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, and Wendy’s — into the Fair Food Program!
Drawing on the long history of CIW Truth Tours that paved the way for the award-winning Fair Food Program, farmworkers and consumers will join forces for a tour stretching from Immokalee to New York City and back again to South Florida, with a stop at Wendy’s corporate headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, along the way. The tour will include protest marches, educational events on the Fair Food Program, theater presentations by workers from Immokalee, and press conferences, leaving a trail of inspired consumers in its wake to take the fight to Wendy’s in the months ahead.
Running from Responsibility…
Despite the growing and undeniable success of the Fair Food Program, Wendy’s has, time and time again, turned its back on workers and consumers calling for the fast-food giant to join the FFP, ignoring their letters, phone calls and protests. Likewise, Wendy’s has turned its back on the Florida tomato industry itself. Inexplicably, just as the industry was being called “the best working environment in American agriculture” on the front page of the New York Times for its commitment to the human rights standards of the Fair Food Program, Wendy’s moved its substantial purchases of fresh tomatoes away from Florida in early 2015. That’s right, they affirmatively decided to buy their tomatoes from farms offering workers fewer protections.
Most recently, Wendy’s released its own new Supplier Code of Conduct, spelling out standards on issues ranging from animal welfare to environmental ethics and human rights. On the surface, the code appears to reflect a serious commitment to ethical supply chain management. On the surface… Because when you dig beneath the surface, what you don’t see is any worker voice in developing Wendy’s human rights standards, much less in their enforcement.
Rather, following the discredited strategy of traditional corporate social responsibility, Wendy’s drafted its own standards for the protection of others’ human rights. And in cutting workers out of every step of the process, including the monitoring and enforcement of those rights, Wendy’s has effectively guaranteed that the code will serve as little more than empty promises to consumers who truly care about the human rights of workers who put the food on their tables.
In doing so, however, Wendy’s has not only underestimated the power of the 20+ year movement for Fair Food, but it has failed to recognize the sea change underway in the world of social responsibility more broadly. In a world of increasing transparency, more and more consumers are losing their patience for corporations that hide behind empty codes of conduct while workers in their supply chains continue to die in factory collapses, face rampant child labor and sexual assault in the fields, and suffer unimaginable abuses while held in forced labor at sea. Yet, confronted with consumers’ calls for real, 21st century social responsibility in its tomato supply chain — enforcement-focused social responsibility driven by workers themselves — Wendy’s has chosen to respond with a public relations gambit straight out of the 20th century corporate playbook.
The Workers’ Voice Tour…
The Workers’ Voice Tour will build on the three-year-old Wendy’s campaign, partnering with students and consumers across the country to amplify the call for farm labor justice. The first stop on the tour will take place in the heart of New York City, at the sleek Park Avenue offices of Wendy’s Board Chairman Nelson Peltz. From the Big Apple, farmworkers and their allies will bus westward to Columbus, Ohio, to join students for a massive mobilization at Ohio State University, and from there continue on to Louisville, Kentucky and Gainesville, Florida — all major hubs in the growing student-led boycott against the fast food giant. Finally, the caravan will arrive in Palm Beach, Florida, for the tour’s big closing march in Mr. Peltz’s glitzy hometown.
Ready to join us along the tour? Stay tuned for more details in the weeks ahead, and email us at organize (at) allianceforfairfood.org to get involved!