McDonald’s joined. Burger King joined. Chipotle and Subway and Trader Joe’s joined. But when it comes to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program — which asks companies to pay an additional penny per pound on Florida tomatoes and require humane conditions on the farms where the produce is grown — Wendy's has been a holdout.
Demonstrators will be at the Wendy’s at 15th and Chestnut tomorrow at noon to try to sway the fast-food giant. The protest, which is part of national Wendy’s Week of Action in 19 cities, is sponsored by Philly Campaign for Fair Food (PCFF). In the past couple years, the campaign has helped convince Trader Joe's and Chipotle to commit to buying from growers who commit to “a zero-tolerance policy for slavery and sexual harassment,” according to a PCFF press release. Wendy’s released a statement in May after a similar series of demonstrations, saying all of their suppliers already participated in the Fair Food Program, so they expected them to be providing high workplace standards without Wendy’s having to commit to the program.
“Not only is Wendy’s claim that its suppliers belong to the Fair Food Program unverifiable, it is meaningless,” says Guadalupe Gonzalo of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). “By refusing to join the Program, Wendy’s is not required to suspend its purchases from any participating grower found out of compliance with the Fair Food Code of Conduct.” Wendy's did not respond to a request for comment.
Conditions on Florida tomato farms may seem like a narrow focus, but advocates say that, especially in the winter, nearly all the fresh tomatoes in supermarkets and restaurants are grown in Florida. So, for at least four months of the year, practically every slice of tomato on every Whopper and every Quarter Pounder, is produced by Florida farmworkers protected by the Fair Food Program. As for the sliver of tomato on Wendy’s newest monstrosity, the pretzel bacon cheeseburger, who knows?
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