Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Wendy’s: Join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' Fair Food Program

SolarEvery day, tens of thousands of workers labor on farms across the US under substandard conditions, often working 12-14 hours a day for sub-poverty wages, denied basic rights such as overtime pay, and in the worst cases, threatened by physical violence or confiscation of their identification documents so they can not leave.

The tomato industry in Florida was sadly one in which these abuses were far too common for far too long.

Not everyone has turned a blind eye to these injustices. The Coalition for Immokalee Workers has created the Fair Food Program, a partnership among tomato growers, farmworkers, and eleven of the top corporations in the food industry. The Fair Food  Program ensures justice at every level of the food production chain, including for the workers in the fields picking the products that end up on your table. By committing to the Fair Food Program, corporations demand more humane labor standards from their Florida tomato suppliers, paying a small premium to improve workers’ pay, and purchasing exclusively from growers who meet the Program’s higher standards.  

However, one major restaurant chain has held back on improving farmworker livelihoods in Florida: Wendy’s.

While four out of the five top fast food brands in the nation -- McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King, and Taco Bell -- have committed their business model to the Fair Food Program, Wendy’s has refused to participate. Wendy’s has responded to consumers’ calls to join the Fair Food Program by saying “[W]e pay a premium to our tomato suppliers in Florida, and expect them to take care of their employees.”

The truth is, whatever premium Wendy’s may be paying is not the Fair Food Premium, it is not likely going to the workers, and it is not being monitored by the Fair Foods Standards Council.  Wendy’s claims cannot be verified because Wendy’s, unlike its competitors in the Fair Food Program, does not have to reveal its tomato suppliers. Nor does Wendy’s have to suspend its purchases from any participating grower found out of compliance with the Fair Food Code of Conduct. These are the dual linchpins that give the Program its teeth.  That's why we’re calling on Wendy’s to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' Fair Food Program



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