Shalina Chatlani (SFS ’17) interns for Industry Dive and is an Undergraduate Writing Fellow for the Kalmanovitz Initiative. We are thrilled to feature her work on our website, including this compelling video and blog post about a recent march to demand that Wendy’s sign on to the Fair Food Program. Georgetown University students, alumni, and Kalmanovitz Initiative staff were all present at the protest.
In an effort to showcase the struggles of farmworkers within the tomato industry and all throughout the nation, the Student/Farmworker Alliance alongside the Coalition of Immokalee Workers marched toward a Wendy’s in Washington, D.C. last month to protest the fast food giant’s consistent refusal to join the Fair Food Program.
I’ve written extensively in the past about the CIW as a model for groups that effectively merge issues of civil rights and labor rights. This “worker-based human rights organization,” which began in the ‘90s and dedicated itself to fighting against “human trafficking” and “gender-based violence at work,” has been responsible for uncovering numerous multi-state farm slavery operations across the Southeastern U.S.
The Fair Food Program was pioneered by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in 2011 as a partnership between farmworkers, Florida’s tomato vendors, and retail buyers that decide to participate. The program is dedicated to ensuring that workers producing the nation’s tomatoes are treated fairly and are not exposed to unfair labor conditions on the job, an issue of migrant worker human rights that has long been ignored.
Current participating buyers in the Fair Food Program include:
Ahold USA (2015) Fresh Market (2015) Walmart (2014) Chipotle Mexican Grill (2012) Trader Joe’s (2012) Sodexo (2010) Aramark (2010) Compass Group (2009) Bon Appetit Management Company (2009) Subway (2008) Whole Foods Market (2008) Burger King (2008) McDonald’s (2007) and Yum Brands (2005).
According to CIW’s press release, Wendy’s is the only major fast food company still refusing to participate in in the human rights campaign of the Fair Food Program. Instead of supporting the cause, Wendy’s has instead shifted purchases to Mexico, where “workers continue to confront wage theft, sexual harassment, child labor, and even slavery without access to protections.”
The Student/Farmworker Alliance and CIW have been calling upon Wendy’s to join the program for the last four years.