The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), in conjunction with farmworkers, community activist and students will descend upon Wendy’s in Wicker Park, 1623 W. Division St., to call attention to the national consumer boycott of the international fast food restaurant.
At issue, according to the group are the protection of farmworkers’ rights in the supply-chain operations and the restaurant’s failure to support the CIW’s Fair Food Program (FFP) like their competitors: McDonald’s, Chipotle, Burger King, Taco Bell and Subway. The FFP which was touted in the New York Times for bringing changes to the work environment of thousands of migrant workers in Florida is being hailed as a human-rights program for workers.
However, instead of adopting the FFP as a humane response to harsh working conditions; Wendy’s has shifted its purchases out of Florida to Mexico, according to the coalition. “Wendy’s is quick to offer their Supplier Code of Conduct, released last year, as their substitute for the Fair Food Program – and their reason for not joining. But without any effective measures for enforcement or worker participation, Wendy’s code does not measure up to a commitment to the Fair Food Program,” said Nely Rodriguez of the CIW.
The FFP requires retailers to purchase tomatoes exclusively from growers that abide by a worker-designed code of conduct that includes zero tolerance for forced labor and sexual assault she shares.
“By refusing to participate in the program Wendy’s continues to provide a market for less reputable food growers,” the group alleges. According to a press statement, thousands of consumers have pledged support and the National Council of Churches recently endorsed the boycott.
In universities around the country, including Vanderbilt University, students are engaged in an escalating “Boot the Braids” campaign in an effort to pressure administrators to end contracts and licensing agreements with on-campus Wendy’s until the retailer joins the Fair Food Program.