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–(BUSINESS WIRE)–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:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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 stated, “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.

Contacts

Coalition of Immokalee Workers
Elena Stein, 239-986-0688
elena@allianceforfairfood.org

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