Farmworker Awareness Week, Day Four: Pledge to Boycott Wendy’s

Bioparques workers who spoke to Times reporter Richard Marosi for an investigation published December 10, 2014, described subhuman conditions, with workers forced to work without pay, trapped for months at a time in scorpion-infested camps, often without beds, fed on scraps, and beaten when they tried to quit. (Harper’s Magazine, 2016)

We are quite happy with the quality and taste of the tomatoes we are sourcing from Mexico. (Wendy’s spokesperson, 2016)

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has been organizing since 1993 to improve labor conditions for farmworkers. In 1998 CIW won its first major victory:

Combining three community-wide work stoppages with intense public pressure – including an unprecedented month-long hunger strike by six members in 1998 and an historic 234-mile march from Ft. Myers to Orlando in 2000 – the CIW’s early organizing ended over twenty years of declining wages in the tomato industry.

By 1998, farmworkers had won industry-wide raises of 13-25% (translating into several million dollars annually for the community in increased wages) and a new-found political and social respect from the outside world. Those raises brought the tomato picking piece rate back to pre-1980 levels (the piece rate had fallen below those levels over the course of the intervening two decades), but wages remained below poverty level and continuing improvement was slow in coming.

In the early 2000’s CIW brought its creative energy to campaigns for corporate responsibility. The strategy was to pressure companies directly for wage increases and improvements in work conditions, aligning CIW’s labor membership with consumers around the country.  In 2001 CIW launched a national boycott of Taco Bell. After four years, Taco Bell reached an agreement with CIW touching on all of the boycott demands.

The next step for CIW was launching the Fair Food Program, a monitoring organization that brings workers, farm producer company, and retail companies together through commitments to support core labor standards. There are currently 14 major retailers, including fast food giants, McDonalds, Burger King, Yum Brands, and Subway.

CIW began targeting Wendy’s to join the FFP in 2005 as well. Wendy’s response was to stop buying in Florida – shifting its production chain to Mexico where labor conditions and wages are even worse. CIW has called a boycott of Wendy’s until it agrees to adopt FFP standards.

Read more here, and pledge to join the boycott today!

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