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NEPA IWW Delivers A Message to Wendy's: We Want Fair Food

By Alex Lotorto - IWW Local 570, June 4, 2016

On Saturday, members of the Northeast Pennsylvania Industrial Workers of the World (NEPA IWW) picketed on Wyoming Avenue in Scranton in support of a nationwide Wendy's boycott due to farmworker abuses.

Jon Christiansen, an IWW delegate and faculty at Marywood University, and Branch Secretary Treasurer Brendan Regan delivered a letter to the Wendy's restaurant manager asking him to pass it along to his district manager, which he agreed to do. Throughout the lunch hour, the picket persuaded more than a dozen customers to leave the restaurant in support.

As of March 3rd 2016, The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has declared a consumer boycott of Wendy's due to the company's refusal to sign on to their Fair Food Program. Not only has Wendy's refused to sign on with the groundbreaking program to address decades-old farm labor abuses, but the company also stopped sourcing their tomatoes from Florida altogether, opting instead to source their tomatoes from Mexico, where the widespread denial of human rights in the produce industry was the subject of an in-depth expose by the Los Angeles Times just one year ago.

Instead of joining the Fair Food Program and its widely-acclaimed, uniquely successful worker-driven model of social responsibility, Wendy’s released a new supplier code of conduct this past January that contains no effective mechanisms for worker participation or enforcement. Wendy’s new code represents the very worst of the traditional corporate approach to social responsibility driven by public relations concerns rather than the verifiable protection of human rights. The Northeast Pennsylvania IWW supports the CIW and their boycott, and calls on Wendy's to sign on to the Fair Food Program in order to guarantee basic human rights for farmworkers.

ABOUT THE FAIR FOOD PROGRAM: The Fair Food Program, created by the Presidential Medal-winning Coalition of Immokalee Workers, is a groundbreaking partnership among farmworkers, Florida tomato growers, and fourteen major food retailers, including McDonald’s, Burger King, and Walmart, heralded as “the best workplace-monitoring program” in the US on the front page of the New York Times. Participating retailers agree to purchase exclusively from suppliers who meet a worker-driven Code of Conduct, which includes a zero-tolerance policy for slavery and sexual harassment.

Retailers also pay a “penny-per-pound” premium, which is passed down through the supply chain and paid out directly to workers by their employers, doubling the piece rate workers receive per pound picked. Since the Program’s inception in 2011, buyers have paid over $20 million into the FFP. In 2015, the Program expanded for the first time beyond Florida to tomato fields in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and New Jersey, and in the 2015-2016 season, the Fair Food Program expanded to two new Florida crops, strawberries and bell peppers.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

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