“This movement is growing, so I urge you to respect the fundamental human rights of farmworkers in your supply chain by bringing Wendy’s into the Fair Food Program!”
Each year, on December 10th, countries and communities around the world come together to reflect on the state of human rights for the internationally-recognized Human Rights Day. Here is this year’s statement from the United Nations itself, a rousing call to action befitting the tumultuous year of 2016:
Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.
This year, Human Rights Day calls on everyone to stand up for someone’s rights! Disrespect for basic human rights continues to be wide-spread in all parts of the globe. Extremist movements subject people to horrific violence. Messages of intolerance and hatred prey on our fears. Humane values are under attack.
We must reaffirm our common humanity. Wherever we are, we can make a real difference. In the street, in school, at work, in public transport; in the voting booth, on social media.
Alongside millions of activists and every-day citizens around the world, the Fair Food Nation heeded the call for action in support of human rights! In addition to students and young people taking on Wendy’s over social media last week, faith communities from coast to coast celebrated International Human Rights Day this past weekend by taking the Wendy’s Boycott to the streets, to their congregations and to their communities, in person, on paper, and online.
Today, we bring you a report from the Alliance for Fair Food, including some of the highlights from the action-packed weekend:
Human Rights Day Protest in Boston!
After the CIW’s “Behind the Braids” tour stop in Boston this October and months of learning about the history of Jewish labor organizing, a group of fifth graders at Boston Workmen’s Circle decided that their community needed to join the Wendy’s Boycott. To get started, they organized a 60-person protest this Sunday in front of the Downtown Crossing Wendy’s.
The young students led the protest with energy and enthusiasm, chanting, “Hold the burgers, hold the shakes! A penny more is all it takes!” The award-winning Boston Globe, which covered the protest, included this quote from 10-year-old Jay Rochberg of Cambridge:
“It’s one thing to see these issues with garment workers in 1912. It’s another thing to see it now in 2016 with farmworkers who can’t support their families because corporations like Wendy’s can’t pay a penny more per pound.”
The Workmen’s Circle students spelled out the truth about Wendy’s supply chains practices clearly in a letter they wrote and read aloud to all gathered. Here’s an excerpt: “Instead of agreeing to the Fair Food Program, Wendy’s is now buying tomatoes from Mexico. We’re here to support the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and want Wendy’s to pay a penny more per pound of tomatoes. Many of the tomato farmworkers can’t support their families. By buying tomatoes from Mexico, you are continuing to support poor labor conditions…”
Fortunately, the full letter-reading was even caught on tape, if you want to hear the whole thing!
Flood of Human Rights Day Letters to Wendy’s CEO Todd Penegor
Meanwhile, just a day before — on International Human Rights Day — members of the National Council of Churches, the Sisters of St. Joseph, allies in Ohio, Wisconsin, Tampa, Orlando, Oregon, and Georgia, members of the Riverside Church in New York City, residents at the Stony Point Center in upstate New York, and many places in between wrote a flood of letters to Wendy’s CEO Todd Penegor, demanding that he heed the calls of his customers and reverse direction on the company’s egregious record on doing their part to protect farmworkers’ human rights.
Here is one excerpt from Anne McCudden of Georgia:
“As I write to you from South Georgia, I can tell you that my community and others around me have joined this boycott and we no longer consume the Wendy’s brand (nor do my siblings and family across the country). This movement is growing, so I urge you to respect the fundamental human rights of farmworkers in your supply chain by bringing Wendy’s into the Fair Food Program.”
Further north, the Little Red Schoolhouse in New York took their letter-writing action further and delivered letters to a nearby Wendy’s. In their own words:
“Today the LREI Farmworker Rights club delivered a letter to the manager of our local Wendy’s. We encouraged him to tell his supervisor that all of us, and many more students, have pledged to boycott Wendy’s until they sign up with the Fair Food Program.
We unfurled a long list of all the people who’ve signed our petition and flyered around the restaurant. We hope the message makes it’s way to Wendy’s management and that customers will think twice about spending their money at Wendy’s.”
As we wrap up the final Campaign for Fair Food actions of 2016, just remember that the powerful momentum built over the past three months in the Wendy’s Boycott, from Florida and New York to Ohio and Oregon, is just a preview of the next major action on the horizon: the Return to Human Rights Tour.
With stops in a dozen cities between March 16-29, highlighted by a weekend-long convening and mobilization in Wendy’s hometown of Columbus, the 2017 tour is shaping up to be the most powerful action yet in the growing Wendy’s Boycott. With history as our guide, there is no doubt that even Wendy’s most stubborn leaders must eventually hear their customers’ call for a real, verifiable commitment to protecting farmworkers’ fundamental human rights.
Just like every fast-food chain before it, Wendy’s will — sooner or later — join the Fair Food Program.