Faith Leaders Affirm Boycott of Wendy’s; Deliver Letter Demanding Rights For Tomato Farmworkers

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DES PLAINES, IL (July 9, 2017) — 75 faith and labor leaders from Interfaith Worker Justice, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers were joined by working people and allies from across Chicagoland in a spirited Boycott Wendy’s picket and rally this morning in Des Plaines.

The action included the delivery to the store manager of an open letter to Wendy’s President and CEO Todd Penegor urging him to join every other major fast-food and retail chain in the nation by signing onto the Presidential Medal-winning Fair Food Program and committing to better working conditions and human rights for the farmworkers who supply the mega-corporation’s tomatoes.

The rally included a number of testimonies from faith leaders and organizers with the Alliance for Fair Food.

You can find photos from the event here.

Laura Barrett, Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice said: “Every faith values the dignity of labor and the rights of the laborer. But by ignoring the Fair Food Program and instead moving it’s tomato sourcing to Mexico where it can pay farmworkers even less, Wendy’s is violating these ancient, universal tenets. Wendy’s CEO Todd Penegor has publicly stated a goal of reaching $2 billion in sales by 2020. Surely in those billions of dollars, Mr. Penegor can budget an extra penny per barrel to ensure farmworkers human rights are respected. And that’s all that we are asking today. A single penny per barrel.”

The Reverend Holly Beaumont, Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice New Mexico said: “There is nothing honorable about one family prospering off the sweat and toil of workers who are unable to feed, house and clothe their families and their own children because of the inadequate wages that Wendy’s pays them. As the prophet Jeremiah warns us in  22:13, Woe to him who builds his palace using injustice and treats his workers unfairly while increasing its upper rooms. Woe to him who makes his neighbors work for nothing, and does not compensate their toil with adequate wages.”

Julia De la Cruz from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers declared:  “As the women and men who harvest tomatoes for multi-billion dollar corporations like Wendy’s, we believe ‘quality’ is not simply measured by the taste of a piece of fruit, but also by the guarantee of dignity and fundamental human rights for those of us who pick it.  A hollow code of conduct and superficial audits that do not include worker participation and meaningful enforcement cannot possibly achieve real protection of workers’ human rights. The Fair Food Program, driven by workers and rooted in partnership with participating retailers and growers, is a proven success model.  It is high time that Wendy's return to Florida and its longtime Florida-based suppliers, return to the highest human rights standards in the produce industry today, and join its fast-food competitors in supporting the Fair Food Program."

“One of the many things that unites people of every culture and tradition is the need for safe, healthy food,” said Reverend Doug Mork, a Lutheran pastor and board president at Interfaith Worker Justice. “Perhaps this is part of the reason so many faith traditions' scriptures speak of the need for justice for farm workers, for those who make life possible for the rest of us. Interfaith Worker Justice stands with farm workers fighting for sustainable lives for themselves and their families. IWJ calls on Wendy's Corporation to join other major fast food companies in acting on their fundamental responsibility to the farm workers who make their profits possible.”

You can find photos from the event here.

You can find more information about the Fair Food Program here and the Wendy’s Boycott here.