Chanting “Exploitation has got to go!” dozens of farm workers and supporters converged on the Wendy’s restaurant in north Minneapolis Monday, calling on the company to honor the human rights of the workers who help produce their food.
protest was part of a 2,000-mile, 14-stop "Return to Human Rights Tour" to urge a consumer boycott of Wendy’s until it joins the Fair Food Program, an action
already taken by its competitors – McDonald’s, Burger King and
Taco Bell. The campaign is sponsored by the Florida-based Coalition
of Immokalee Workers.
workers who pick the tomatoes that go into Wendy’s hamburgers work
long days in the hot sun, hauling 32-pound buckets of produce, said
Lupe Gonzalo, a farm worker who participated in Monday’s action.
working conditions are difficult, but signatories to the Fair Food
Program have introduced improvements, such as access to shade and
water; the right to file a complaint without fear of retaliation; the
right to work free of sexual harassment and modern slavery; and the
first real wage increase in 30 years.
in contrast, “is evading their responsibility by not participating
in the Fair Food Program,” Gonzalo said. “They are opting to
profit from farm workers’ poverty.”
coalition launched the national boycott of Wendy’s in 2016 after
the company shifted its purchases from Florida to Mexico following
the implementation of the Fair Food Program.
than support U.S. growers setting new standards for human rights in
the agricultural industry, Wendy’s took its tomato purchases to an
industry where wage theft, sexual violence, modern-day slavery and
other human rights abuses have been widely reported,” the coalition
an October 2016 statement, Wendy’s responded to concerns about
human rights abuse in their supply chain: “We are quite happy
with the quality and taste of the tomatoes we are sourcing from
Suffridge, a McDonald’s worker and CTUL member, told the crowd that
“working people have to make a lot of sacrifices - whether we're in
the fields picking tomatoes or serving the burgers!"
was the fifth stop in the Coalition’s tour to call attention to the
one-year anniversary of the Wendy’s boycott.
the same time, the organization is celebrating the success of the
Fair Food Program, which the New York Times heralded as “the best
workplace-monitoring program” in the United States. The
groundbreaking partnership connects farm workers, Florida tomato
growers and 14 major food retailers, including McDonald’s, Burger
King and Walmart.
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.
the program’s inception in 2011, buyers have paid over $23 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
>> The article above was written by Barb Kucera, and is reprinted from WorkdayMinnesota.