Coalition of Immokalee Workers
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Farmworkers, Consumers Declare National Boycott of Wendy’s
Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Campaign for Fair Food Calls on World’s Third Largest Hamburger Chain to Join Award-Winning Fair Food Program
New York, NY: On Thursday, March 3, hundreds of farmworkers, religious leaders, students, and consumers will gather near Columbus Circle to launch a national boycott of Wendy’s, the world’s third largest hamburger chain. Following the boycott announcement, the protesters will march from Columbus Circle to the Park Avenue offices of Wendy’s Board Chair Nelson Peltz, Founding Partner and CEO of the activist hedge fund Trian Partners and a major shareholder in Wendy’s.
The boycott, only the second in the history of the Campaign for Fair Food, has been necessitated by Wendy’s steadfast refusal to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) Fair Food Program (FFP). The FFP is a groundbreaking social responsibility program that has won recognition from the White House to the United Nations for its unique success in addressing decades-old farm labor abuses. All of Wendy’s major competitors in the fast-food industry – McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell and Chipotle – have already joined the Fair Food Program.
The CIW is calling for consumers to boycott Wendy’s because:
- Wendy’s has shifted its purchases from Florida to Mexico: Wendy’s has not only refused to join the FFP, but has stopped buying tomatoes from Florida altogether following the implementation of the Fair Food Program there. Rather than support US growers setting new standards for human rights in the agricultural industry, Wendy’s took its tomato purchases to Mexico, where the widespread denial of human rights in the produce industry was the subject of an in-depth expose by the Los Angeles Times just one year ago.
- Wendy’s has chosen public relations over human rights protections: Instead of joining the Fair Food Program and its widely-acclaimed, uniquely successful worker-driven model of social responsibility, Wendy’s released a new supplier code of conduct this past January that contains no effective mechanisms for worker participation or enforcement. Wendy’s new code represents the very worst of the traditional corporate approach to social responsibility driven by public relations concerns rather than the verifiable protection of human rights.
- Wendy’s is profiting from farmworker poverty: Wendy’s stands alone as the last of the five major US fast food corporations to refuse to join the FFP: McDonald’s, Yum! Brands, Subway, and Burger King are all part of the Program. By refusing to participate, Wendy’s is deriving a very real cost advantage over its competitors, while continuing to provide a market for less reputable growers.
The launch of the boycott marks the beginning of the CIW’s five-city Workers’ Voice Tour, which builds on a three-year consumer campaign and a year-long national student boycott of Wendy’s.
In a statement, CIW’s Cruz Salucio said, “Ten years ago, we sent a letter to Wendy’s asking them to follow Taco Bell’s example and work with us to protect farmworkers’ fundamental human rights in their supply chain. They refused then, and they continue to turn their backs on farmworkers to this day, even as we built a groundbreaking new approach to social responsibility in partnership with Florida tomato growers and fourteen other major food retailers. Instead, Wendy’s stands alone in deciding to pull its purchases from the Florida tomato industry altogether and abandon its longtime suppliers for participating in what has been called ‘one of the great human rights success stories of our day’ in the Washington Post.”
“Of course, in light of the Fair Food Program’s unparalleled success in eliminating longstanding human rights violations in the fields, it is preferable at this point for companies looking for solutions to abuses in their supply chains to come to the program of their own volition. By now, protests and boycotts should be no longer necessary,” added Lupe Gonzalo of the CIW.
She continued, “But when companies like Wendy’s remain so stubbornly stuck in the past, committed to a path of empty public relations promises over real human rights protections, we are left with no choice. The Campaign for Fair Food is prepared to mobilize consumer action in support of real worker-driven social responsibility, and we will prevail, because more and more, transparency and food justice are becoming the hallmarks of the 21st century food market.”
What: March to the office of Wendy’s Chairman Nelson Peltz to declare a national consumer boycott of Wendy’s and call on the fast food giant to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ award-winning Fair Food Program
Where: March begins at W 58th St. between 8th and 9th Ave, near Columbus Circle, and ends at Trian Partners (280 Park Ave) in Midtown Manhattan
When: Thursday, March 3 at 4 PM
About the Fair Food Program: The Fair Food Program, created by the Presidential Medal-winning Coalition of Immokalee Workers, is a groundbreaking partnership among farmworkers, Florida tomato growers, and fourteen major food retailers, including McDonald’s, Burger King, and Walmart, heralded as “the best workplace-monitoring program” in the US on the front page of the New York Times. Participating retailers agree to purchase exclusively from suppliers who meet a worker-driven Code of Conduct, which includes a zero-tolerance policy for slavery and sexual harassment. Retailers also pay a “penny-per-pound” premium, which is passed down through the supply chain and paid out directly to workers by their employers. Since the Program’s inception in 2011, buyers have paid over $20 million into the FFP. In 2015, the Program expanded for the first time beyond Florida to tomato fields in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and New Jersey, and in the 2015-2016 season, the Fair Food Program expanded to two new Florida crops, strawberries and bell peppers.
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