Remove Wendy’s from the Boca Raton Campus of Florida Atlantic University
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Wendy’s executives have refused to join the Fair Food Program, an agreement designed and implemented by farmworkers to protect them from mistreatment, wage garnishing, sexual harassment, and other human rights violations in the fields. Although many other corporations have signed the program, such as McDonald's, Taco Bell, Burger King, Walmart, and Subway; Wendy’s refuses. Florida Atlantic University should cut ties with Wendy's by removing them from FAU, in order to send a message that Wendy's behavior will not be tolerated.
Agricultural workers in the United States have long been among the worst treated people in the nation. Tomato pickers in Immokalee, Florida list their grievances as including:
- forced labor
- sub-poverty wages ($40/day on average)
- long hours (15 hours/day) without overtime pay when work is available
- unemployment and transience when it is not
- denial of break time, meal time, sick days, and holidays
- denial of healthcare and pensions
- physical abuse and fraud by growers, crewleaders, supervisors, and recruiters; damage to body and soul from back-breaking labor, exposure to pesticides, and lack of basic medical care
- Dilapidated, crowded, and indecent housing at exorbitant prices; discrimination against immigrants, women, and the aged
- retaliation and blacklisting against workers who protest or organize to alleviate these inhuman conditions
(Bringing Human Rights Home: A History of Human Rights in the United States, 2009.)
Things are changing for farmworkers, however. Over a decade ago, born from informal gatherings of farmworkers dedicated to addressing their problems, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers was created. It has grown into an organization dedicated to using the power of collective action to improve farmworkers’ lives. The CIW created the Fair Food Program, a revolutionary model of change addressed to those who had the power to influence working conditions: the purchasers of their tomatoes.
The CIW drafted the Fair Food Agreement: a simple contract where buyers agree to pay 1 penny more per pound of tomatoes and only buy from farmers who have signed onto the program, which includes a number of stipulations about fair and legal treatment of workers. After a series of protests and actions, including many successful student-lead efforts to kick Taco Bell off of their campuses, Yum! Brands (parent corporation of Taco Bell and KFC) became the first to sign the agreement.
Since then, many of the largest tomato purchasers including Walmart, Chipotle, Whole Foods, McDonald’s, and Subway have signed the agreement. The Fair Food Program has improved the quality of worker’s lives vastly. Worker-to-worker education programs have been implemented to great success, and over 135,000 workers have been educated about their labor rights. Wages have increased drastically. A bilingual hotline was created for reporting violations in the field. Participating farms are audited regularly. Workers now enjoy legally-afforded shade and breaks during work, and sexual violence has decreased dramatically.
The FFP has spread far beyond Immokalee and been lauded by Bill Clinton as “brilliant,” by Jimmy Carter as a “model of social responsibility,” and by the New York Times as “the best workplace monitoring program” in the US.
Wendy’s is among the last companies to not sign the Fair Food agreement. Wendy’s has refused even to meet with members of the CIW; and has in fact started purchasing from Mexican tomato farms, where slavery, child labor, and exploitative company stores are common. In so doing, Wendy’s supports the continuation of child labor, extreme poverty, slavery, and verbal and sexual harassment of workers. Wendy’s enables a harmful culture of unaccountability for companies who ignore problems that they can easily take action against.
The CIW launched a national boycott against Wendy’s over 5 years ago and in order to hold them accountable for what they enable. We stand in solidarity with farmworkers and petition Florida Atlantic University administration to remove Wendy’s from our campus.
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