LaborMilitant Journalism

Farmworkers fight billionaires of Wendy’s, demand fair wages, working conditions

On May 12, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers held a rally and street performance outside the office of Wendy’s board members in midtown Manhattan to demand that the fast food corporation join the Fair Food Program, a worker-led initiative to enforce humane wages and working conditions for farmworkers. The workers also called for the removal of Wendy’s board members Nelson Peltz, Peter May, Matthew Peltz and Peter Rothschild, who have for years refused to address the rampant human rights abuses in the company’s food supply chain. The rally was attended by worker, student, and faith organizations, like New Immigrant Community Empowerment, the Workers Circle, and the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, as well as the Party for Socialism and Liberation.

Because of the organized resistance of the farmworkers and solidarity from grassroots organizations across the country, several large corporations, like McDonald’s and Chipotle, have agreed to abide by the demands of the Fair Food Program campaign, which include higher wages, health and safety protections and protections against violence and retaliation. Campaigns like the Fair Food Program are much-needed progress towards better wages and working conditions for farmworkers across the country. 

Wendy’s billionaire board chairman Nelson Peltz and his fellow ultra-rich board members from Trian Partners, the fast food chain’s largest shareholder, continue to reject the Fair Food Program — despite that 95% of company shareholders voted in favor of more protections for the workers — which is why the workers brought the fight to their doorstep, just days before their next shareholders’ meeting. 

Protesters demand protections for farmworkers. Liberation photo

‘Their fight is our fight’

At the rally, the workers described the injustices they continued to fight against, like wage theft, physical assault, sexual abuse, and hazardous working conditions, through powerful speeches and musical and theatrical performances. 

The farmworkers made clear that their movement was steadily growing, and they would not stop fighting until they saw justice for all farmworkers. 

“The food we produce doesn’t need to cause the humiliation or tears of the workers,” Geraldo Reyes of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers told the spirited crowd of supporters. “There is a power that Wendy’s cannot ignore — when workers, people of faith, shareholders, students, and consumers come together to create change!” 

Reyes then called on the crowd to continue to spread the word and boycott Wendy’s until the company finally listened to the demands of the farmworkers. 

Organizers also emphasized the importance of standing in solidarity with the Immokalee farmworkers. 

“Their fight is our fight. What they go through is also what we go through here,” explained Karina Tiburcio Ordaza, a member of New Immigrant Community Empowerment. “We are helping our comrades because it doesn’t matter what you do for work — we need to unite and join forces!” 

Answer the call of the Coalition for Immokalee Workers: Boycott Wendy’s and join the fight for farmworkers’ rights! 

Follow the Coalition for Immokalee Workers on Facebook

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