Even in the face of growing worker-led movements calling for justice, corporations increasingly deny their responsibility to human rights — or, sometimes more common, promote a conscious image while rejecting the key to any realization of human rights: the voices of workers themselves. The most recent and notable example of this empty, corporate-driven social responsibility appeared in late November with Wendy’s — the infamous Fair Food holdout — releasing an enforcement-free supplier code of conduct only days after thousands took action nationwide to call on the corporation to join the Fair Food Program.
The CIW’s Fair Food Program has achieved unparalleled and far-reaching transformation in the agricultural industry, ensuring human rights and improved pay for tens of thousands of workers. Contrary to corporate-driven social responsibility programs, designed only to bolster and defend corporate PR, the Fair Food Program has the essential elements of worker participation, robust enforcement mechanisms, and market consequences for failure to comply. The Fair Food Program is designed by workers to defend and protect their own rights.
Farmworkers know that nothing less than their own model of human rights protection will ensure justice, which is why they are rejecting Wendy’s newly-released supplier code of conduct. Wendy’s new code states that it “expects” suppliers to comply with the code, but does not strictly “require” anything. The code has no worker participation in its design or implementation, and has no meaningful enforcement mechanisms. In the face of Wendy’s refusal of farmworkers’ vision for justice in the fields, this March 2-12, the CIW will embark on the Workers’ Voice Tour — sending a clear message that farmworkers and consumers together will not allow Wendy’s to continue to do business while rejecting workers’ voices.