By Ashley Berry
On March 22nd, in St. Petersburg Florida, the Coalition for Immokalee Workers announced to the crowd at the Concert for Fair Food that the Coalition, alongside students from across the country, were enacting a boycott of the fast food giant Wendy’s. They dubbed this boycott “Boot the Braids,”playing off of the Wendy’s mascot.
The Program was created as a partnership between the Floridan farm workers, tomato growers, and 13 multibillion dollar companies in effort to ensure that farm workers receive decent pay and humane working conditions.
Companies that have signed this program include Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell. The stipulations of the partnership state that these companies can only purchase tomatoes from suppliers that dedicate themselves to having humane working standards, and that the farm workers are paid a penny per pound premium by their employers.
The announcement stretches far beyond a simple boycott and aims to end any relationships that Wendy’s shares with colleges and Universities around the country.
Interestingly enough, there has only been one other instance in which a boycott was deemed necessary by the Coalition. In 2002 Taco Bell refused to sign, resulting in a three year boycott of their restaurants, until their compliance with the Fair Food Program. Even more interesting is that the then CEO of Taco Bell was Emil Brolick, the now current CEO of Wendy’s. In light of the circumstances, it would seem that Brolick has an issue with the fair treatment of workers.
Despite the yummy burgers at Wendy’s, it is unacceptable that they be allowed to endorse the unfair treatment of vulnerable farm workers. The Beacon stands in support of the Fair Food Program and asks that next time you’re looking for a quick and convenient bite, you think about the suffering endured by those who made it possible for you to have your sandwich. Instead, choose restaurants and grocery stores that are committed to the fair treatment of workers. If you know that someone was not abused in the making of your snack, your treat will taste all the more delicious.