On March 11, dozens of Florida farmworkers with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) will launch a five-day fast in front of the hedge fund offices of Nelson Peltz, the Board Chairman and largest shareholder of the fast food giant, Wendy’s. The fast will protest the restaurant chain’s refusal to join the Fair Food Program, which has virtually ended sexual harassment and assault for tens of thousands of workers on dozens of participating farms in seven states.
Wendy’s competitors McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Chipotle, and Taco Bell all joined the Presidential medal-winning program years ago and have contributed to an unprecedented improvement in farmworkers’ lives in their supply chains.
“In the age of #MeToo, business leaders like Nelson Peltz must use their power to end sexual violence in their companies’ supply chains, and not hide behind a shroud of silence that prevents survivors of sexual violence from obtaining justice,” said CIW member Lupe Gonzalo. “Today, we come to Mr. Peltz’s doorstep with a proven solution in hand. Inaction in the face of a problem like sexual assault is unacceptable, but inaction in the face of a solution is unconscionable.”
The “Freedom Fast”, which builds off a national Wendy’s Boycott launched by CIW in 2016, will culminate with the Time’s Up Wendy’s March through Manhattan on March 15th. Human rights leader Kerry Kennedy, U.S. Women’s Soccer legend Abby Wambach, and New York Times best-selling author Glennon Doyle will join the march along with thousands of supporters from New York City and across the country who are part of a growing national movement to hold Wendy’s accountable for the company’s inaction.
“Wendy’s refusal to join the Fair Food Program — and ensure that the farmworkers who pick their food stop being raped and abused in the fields — is reprehensible. Abby and I are honored to march alongside our fierce farmworker sisters and together demand that Wendy’s stop profiting from women’s pain,” shared Doyle.
CIW reports that under the direction of executives like investor Nelson Peltz, Wendy’s has refused to join the Fair Food Program and instead ended its purchases from longtime Florida tomato suppliers and shifted those purchases to Mexico. In doing so, Wendy’s is choosing to partner with an industry where sexual harassment is endemic, but seldom reported and brought to justice, due to widespread violence, corruption, and impunity.
The Fair Food Program was named one of the Harvard Business Review’s top 15 “most important social-impact stories of the past century,” and was called “the best workplace monitoring program in the U.S.” on the front page of the New York Times. The Program has harnessed the purchasing power of more than a dozen of the world’s largest retail food companies, including retail giants like Walmart and Stop & Shop, to end decades of sexual harassment and assault on participating U.S. farms.