An Open Letter to Wendy’s from National Faith Leaders

To Nelson Peltz and the Wendy’s Board of Directors,

We write as faith leaders of national religious denominations and organizations to urge Wendy’s to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program. Our faith traditions call on us to uphold human dignity and to build a society grounded in the firm belief that we must love our neighbors as ourselves. The hundreds of thousands of people of faith we represent view those values as a mandate to stand in solidarity with farmworkers and insist that Wendy’s commit to human dignity and human rights by joining the Fair Food Program.

For the last five years, Wendy’s has inexplicably turned its back on farmworkers and evaded this proven supply-chain Program that guarantees farmworkers’ human rights; ending severe abuses such as forced labor and sexual assault and creating respectful conditions of work for tens of thousands of men and women harvesting crops on Program farms.

Meanwhile, outside the Fair Food Program, in greenhouses and fields in the US, Canada and Mexico, farmworkers still face well-documented abuses. They and their families and pay a heavy toll in their lives and livelihoods. But instead of joining the Fair Food Program, Wendy’s has gone out of its way to avoid it – pulling its purchasing from participating growers and creating its own Code and adopting traditional corporate monitoring – an approach that has failed for years, the world over. Wendy’s has taken a “trust us” approach, insisting that you can monitor human rights conditions in your supply chains yourselves. But those assurances are no substitute for the transparency and proven results of the Fair Food Program, which is making a concrete difference for tens of thousands of farmworkers. Human dignity, health, wholeness, and lives are at stake. With a proven model at hand, It is simply unconscionable that Wendy’s has done all in its power to avoid participation.

We support the moral stand of university students across the nation, who have mobilized to cut Wendy’s contracts with their universities until Wendy’s puts human rights on its menu. The moral arc of the universe – and of human rights for farmworkers – bends towards justice. As we have in the past, we will lend our power and voices and faith leaders to support these efforts, including to continue to engage executives at Wendy’s annual shareholders’ meetings, to march in the sunshine and in the snow, and to bring our congregations to protest at Wendy’s restaurants across the nation. And we support the national boycott of Wendy’s, a boycott that demonstrates the moral urgency for Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program now.

Wendy’s continued refusal to sit down with the CIW and sign onto the Fair Food Program is an affront to the conscience. We are counting on you to stand up for human rights. We call upon you to recognize your common humanity with farmworkers and come to the table, human being to human being and sign a fair food agreement. Do not wait another day. And trust these words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The time is always ripe for doing good.”

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