This March 2 to 12, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers will tour the country in a cascade of powerful action with thousands of consumers to bring Wendy’s into the Fair Food Program. Sweeping from north to south, the 2016 Workers’ Voice Tour, La Voz del Trabajador: Gira 2016, will call on the final fast food holdout to hear and respect the voices of farmworkers.
It has been three years since the CIW first called on Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program. In that time, farmworkers have educated thousands of their fellow workers about the new rights they have under the Program, from access to shade and water, to increased pay, to freedom from sexual harassment and forced labor. All of these rights are being enforced by workers themselves, who now have the right to speak up about abuse on the job through a 24-hour hotline. And since the beginning of the Wendy’s campaign, several corporations have joined the Program, bringing the count to 14 buyers that are paying the penny per pound and only buying from farms that uphold farmworkers’ human rights.
Yet Wendy’s continues to ignore workers’ voices, denying their responsibility to the human rights of farmworkers in their supply chain. They recently released their own Supplier Code of Conduct — but one that does nothing more than gently suggest that suppliers adhere to ideals that sound suspiciously like those of the Fair Food Program. With no enforcement mechanisms, the code lacks the crucial ingredient for transparent and verifiable change: the voice of workers. And until Wendy’s respects the voice of workers, the CIW will bring their message to Wendy’s loud and clear.
The Workers’ voice Tour will kick off at the New York City offices of Nelson Peltz, the chairman of the board of Wendy’s and Wendy’s largest investor, in a giant action on March 3. With no response to date to the hundreds of rabbis who sent him personal letters and the hundred-person march to his offices in November, the CIW is making good on their autumn promise to one of the most powerful men in business: “We are going to keep struggling, keep moving forward, and we are not going to stop until Nelson Peltz comes to Immokalee, to where workers are working every day, and brings Wendy’s to the table!” The tour will then make its way to Wendy’s headquarter town of Columbus, Ohio, on March 6 for a major mobilization of Fair Food allies in Ohio and from across the Northeast and Midwest at Ohio State University, where students first launched the national student boycott. The tour will then head to Louisville, KY and Gainesville, FL, also major strongholds in the student boycott. The tour will culminate with a march of hundreds in Palm Beach, Florida, where Mr. Peltz has his winter estate.
For decades, thousands of farmworkers have raised their voices to demand respect and dignity, making themselves heard through marches, pickets, letters, work stoppages, and hunger strikes. Consumers have long come alongside the CIW with their own voices, taking the CIW’s lead to amplify the call for justice in our communities and speaking to corporations about their connection to the workers who make their profits possible. With this tour, we will continue to do just that: Even as Wendy’s seeks to cut out farmworkers’ voices through their empty Codes and inexcusable inaction, farmworkers and consumers will make themselves heard until Wendy's becomes part of an industry that respects, hears — and gives rightful, dignified place — to workers’ voices.
To join up with the tour and organize your communities to do the same, contact us at organize (at) allianceforfairfood.org. Head over to the CIW site for more details!