Wendy’s is the last major fast-food chain that isn’t participating in a Fair Food agreement to protect the rights of Flordia tomato farm workers — and, yesterday, Philly protesters took them to task for it. The Philly Campaign for Fair Food staged a rally in front of Wendy’s on Chestnut Street in Center City as part of a nationwide movement to improve the labor standards.
“Your burgers may be square, but your food ain’t fair!” chanted several dozen protestors. Wendy’s is the latest target of the Coalition for Immokalee Workers, a group which has managed to pressure a dozen food industry giants to sign its Fair Food agreement. The participating companies pledge to protect the rights of Florida farm workers supplying their tomatoes and pay them an extra penny per pound.
The agreement includes a condition that protects women’s “right to work without fear of sexual harassment or sexual abuse,” said Guadalupe Gonzalo, a Florida farm worker and member of the CIW who protested. Before many of the Florida tomato suppliers joined the Fair Food program, she said, sexual abuse was “something that we faced every day.” If they tried to file a complaint, “we would have been the ones who would have been fired.” Another change advocated by the CIW is the use of mandatory time clocks, to ensure that workers are really being paid at minimum wage.
Two weeks ago, protestors in New York City were mentioned in national news outlets mostly for being joined by Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert Kennedy and head of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. The CIW and Fast Food Forward activists were rallying outside the yearly Wendy’s shareholder meeting.
Over the years, CIW has convinced several fast food giants to participate in the Fair Food agreement, including Mc Donald’s, Burger King, Subway and Taco Bell. Wendy’s is the last major fast food chain that isn’t participating in the program, Gonzalo said. Despite buying from tomato suppliers who adhere to the Fair Food agreement, the chain has still not joined in the penny-per-pound raise. “Wendy’s is representing a dark cloud," said Gonzalo, "threatening some of the changes that we’ve won."
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