Athens For Everyone is proud to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) boycott of Wendy’s and strongly encourages others to do the same. Over the past several years, the CIW has targeted large corporate chains in order to secure basic but life-changing rights for the workers who pick tomatoes in Florida.
CIW is calling for the boycott to force Wendy’s to participate in the Fair Food Program. Under the Fair Food Program, corporate produce buyers pay a small premium for tomatoes (about a penny per pound), which goes directly into workers’ paychecks as a line-item bonus. Additionally, the agreement guarantees basic labor rights like breaks during the work day, an end to hours of uncompensated delays, a no-tolerance approach to sexual assault, and on-the-clock worker-to-worker educational sessions to inform workers of their rights (check out the documentary Food Chains on Netflix).
CIW targets fast food chains and supermarkets who purchase produce in bulk from other corporate entities, thus putting pressure on the very people who have the power to demand better worker treatment lower down the production chain. The first successful boycott—against Taco Bell in 2005—worked because it leveraged corporate need for positive public image. Through a combination of marches, op-eds, and outreach, every major fast food corporation except Wendy’s has joined the Fair Food Program, as have several supermarket chains. In fact, the Fair Food program now covers 90% of Florida’s tomato growers—tens of thousands of workers—and is expanding to other states. This is a remarkable and encouraging history of success, all the more so in a context of unfettered corporate attacks against organized labor.
Not only is Wendy’s not participating in the Fair Food Program, it is actively undermining it. Currently Wendy’s is shifting all of its tomato purchasing to Mexico, where farmworkers suffer particularly egregious exploitation and violation of even the most basic labor rights. In so doing, Wendy’s is now actively doing business with Bioparques, one of the world’s worst employers, whose practices necessitated military action to release hundreds of workers held in forced labor conditions.
Wendy’s preference for slave-like working conditions in order to gain economic advantage over competitors and further erode what is left in worker’s rights is a particularly shocking example of the profits-over-people logic that underlies global capitalism. We urge you to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Athens For Everyone in the Month of Outrage at Wendy’s.