Since the launch of the Wendy’s boycott in March, thousands of consumers around the country have pledged to join and have taken creative action to call on the hamburger giant to join the Fair Food Program. Central to this resolute call have been people of faith, whose strong, moral voices in society have always been a cornerstone of the Campaign for Fair Food. The last few months have seen endorsements and calls to action from diverse faith communities around the country representing millions.
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, was the first organization to endorse the Wendy’s boycott, and has been a leader in the campaign since its launch in 2013. After they endorsed, T’ruah put the call out to its entire network to support the boycott in a letter of endorsement (in full here), which over 300 rabbis, cantors, rabbinical/cantorial students, and Jewish communal leaders around the country signed. After collecting these signatures, early last month T’ruah leaders took the additional step of personally delivering the letter to the Park Ave. offices of Nelson Peltz — the same offices to which hundreds of Fair Food supporters marched after the launch of the boycott on the Workers’ Voice Tour.
In May, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), continued its steadfast support in becoming the first major Christian denomination to endorse the Wendy’s boycott. Representing nearly two million across the country, the PC(U.S.A.) has stood with farmworkers since the nascent stages of the Campaign for Fair Food. In a statement, the Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(U.S.A.) said, “Rather than support Florida growers who uphold human rights under the Fair Food Program, Wendy’s switched its tomato purchases to Mexico, where the denial of human rights in the produce industry was well-documented in last year’s Los Angeles Times exposé… This is unacceptable, especially from a company that has prided itself on using U.S.-made products. Therefore, the PC(USA) joins the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in calling on Wendy’s to sign a Fair Food agreement.” You can read the full story from the Presbyterian News Service here.
Joining the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and T’ruah is the United Church of Christ (UCC), who also took the formal step to endorse the Wendy’s boycott just weeks ago. The UCC, representing over one million followers in the United States, celebrated the advances of the Fair Food Program and condemned Wendy’s for its refusal to be part of these changes. The Rev. John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President, and Rev. Traci Blackmon, Executive Minister, Justice & Witness Ministries, stated, “Wendy’s has turned its back on successful efforts in Florida to protect workers’ basic human rights and has moved its supply chain to Mexico where human rights abuses are rampant…For 10 years the request has been simple and fair: a zero-tolerance policy for slavery and sexual harassment, an additional penny per pound of tomatoes picked, and a formal grievance policy to address worker concerns. Ten years is long enough to simply ask a major corporation to do the right thing.”
On top of these historic endorsements, over twenty powerful religious leaders published an open letter to Wendy’s leadership in advance of the recent Wendy’s shareholder meeting, stating their unequivocal support for the Fair Food Program and calling on Wendy’s to join the Program. They hail from positions within the PC(U.S.A.), United Church of Christ, the Catholic Church, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and other diverse institutions that represent millions of followers. You can read the full letter here.
Wendy’s leadership should know that these individuals and institutions will not rest with just a signature or endorsement, but they will be spreading their support of the boycott to the millions of followers in their communities. As a resounding consensus in faith communities grows in support of farmworkers’ human rights and the Wendy’s boycott, Wendy’s should know that people of faith and conscience around the country will accept nothing less than their full participation in the Fair Food Program — and, in partnership with farmworkers, are committed to making that a reality.