“The pain and power of fasting are familiar to us, and we know from experience that it is no small sacrifice. Right now there is always an empty seat at our table for Wendy’s to come sit with us.”
- Santiago Perez, CIW

City by city coverage of tour

HIGHLIGHTS: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Protesters march against Wendy's for fair food and farmworkers rights, The Daily Tar Heel (27 March 2017)

UNC groups plan march against Wendy’s for farmworker rightsThe Daily Tar Heel (23 March 2017)

HIGHLIGHTS: Madison, Wisconsin

Protesters target downtown Madison Wendy's over farm labor issuesThe Cap Times  (21 March 2017)

HIGHLIGHTS:  Minneapolis, Minnesota

Farm workers call for human rights at Wendy’s restaurants, Workday Minnesota (20 March 2017)

Farm workers bring campaign to Twin CitiesWorkday Minnesota (16 March 2017)

HIGHLIGHTS: Gainesville, Florida

Students and Farmworkers Are Teaming Up to Boot Wendy’s Off Their CampusesThe Nation (29 March 2017)

Wendy’s protest spans UF campus, The Independent Florida Alligator (17 March 2017)

Wendy's BoycottGainesville Sun (16 March 2017)

Alan Alvarez for The Independent Florida Alligator

Alan Alvarez for The Independent Florida Alligator

But, how are colleges extra powerful? ... If universities publicly cut ties with companies because they stand for conflicting values which strip people of their human rights, they land a huge blow on the company image.
- Ania Szczesniewski, Vanderbilt University

press release - TAMPA

Lupe Gonzalo

Coalition of Immokalee Workers

(239) 675-1131


Hundreds of farmworkers, consumers to march in Tampa to demand human rights in Wendy’s, Publix supply chains

2,000 mile, 12-city “Return to Human Rights Tour” to culminate in major march and vigil calling on fast-food giant, grocer to join Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ award-winning Fair Food Program

Tampa, FL – On Wednesday, March 29 at 5:00pm, hundreds of farmworkers, religious leaders, students, and consumer allies from across Florida will converge at the Publix Greenwise in Tampa’s Hyde Park neighborhood (2401 W Azeele St) to begin a spirited, mile-long march that will conclude with a candlelight vigil at Wendy’s (1615 W Kennedy Blvd). This March and Vigil for Human Rights is the final stop on the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) 12-city Return to Human Rights Tour, in which farmworkers are joining with thousands of consumers to escalate the national boycott of the world’s third largest hamburger chain, Wendy’s. The boycott was launched by farmworkers last year in response to the retailer’s decision to abandon its longtime Florida tomato growers and shift its purchases to Mexico rather than participate in the CIW’s internationally-recognized Fair Food Program (FFP). In Florida, the tour also mobilizes consumers to continue the call on Publix Supermarkets to take responsibility for working conditions in its supply chain, since the Lakeland-based grocer has also refused to join the FFP despite growing consumer demand.

What: Hundreds-strong march and candlelight vigil to spread the national consumer boycott of Wendy’s and ongoing Publix campaign, calling on both food retailers to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ award-winning Fair Food Program

Where: March begins at Publix Greenwise (2401 W Azeele St) in Tampa’s Hyde Park neighborhood, and end at Wendy’s (1615 W Kennedy Blvd)

When: Wednesday, March 29 at 5:00pm

The Tour will mark one year since the national boycott of Wendy’s was launched, a year during which tens of thousands of consumers pledged to boycott the fast food chain over the company’s unconscionable resistance to joining the Fair Food Program. It also marks seven years since the start of the campaign calling on Publix Supermarkets to join the FFP.  In 2015, the Fair Food Program received a Presidential Medal for its “extraordinary efforts in combatting human trafficking” and other human rights abuses in corporate supply chains. Late last year, the United Nations called the FFP “an international benchmark” for human rights protection, while Fordham law professor and international labor law expert James Brudney called the FFP “substantially more successful than other corporate compliance programmes” in a new textbook on business and human rights.

The CIW launched the national boycott of Wendy’s in 2016 after the company shifted its purchases from Florida to Mexico following the implementation of the FFP.  Rather than support US growers setting new standards for human rights in the agricultural industry, Wendy’s took its tomato purchases to an industry where wage theft, sexual violence, modern-day slavery and other human rights abuses have been widely reported.  In an October 2016 statement, Wendy’s responded to concerns about human rights abuse in their supply chain:  “We are quite happy with the quality and taste of the tomatoes we are sourcing from Mexico."

In a statement, CIW’s Lupe Gonzalo declared:  “As the women and men who harvest tomatoes for multi-billion dollar corporations like Wendy’s and Publix, we believe ‘quality’ is not simply measured by the taste of a piece of fruit, but also by the guarantee of dignity and fundamental human rights for those of us who pick it.  For example, Wendy’s hollow code of conduct and superficial audits that do not include worker participation and meaningful enforcement cannot possibly achieve real protection of workers’ human rights. Neither can Publix’s continued rejection of their responsibility in the supply chain by mis-labelling our campaign with the supermarket, as the end buyer of tomatoes, a “labor dispute.” The Fair Food Program, driven by workers and rooted in partnership with participating retailers and growers, is a proven success model.  It is high time that Wendy's return to Florida and support the highest human rights standards in the produce industry today by joining the Fair Food Program which Wendy's competitors already support. And it is imperative that Publix, as a Florida-based grocer, also make this commitment to supporting the state’s farmworkers and growers who are participating in the Program."

Gonzalo continued, “This national tour isn’t only about demanding human rights in Wendy’s and Publix’s supply chain. As we embark on the Return to Human Rights Tour, we will also carry the call for human rights of all people, in an age when those rights are facing grave dangers.  We join millions of others across this country in declaring that we will not slide backwards into the darker corners of our history, but rather will continue to march toward the horizon.”

About the Fair Food Program:  The Fair Food Program 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. Since the Program’s inception in 2011, buyers have paid over $23 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. 

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