Wendy’s is the only of the nation’s five largest fast-food chains to reject the FFP, which has won the praise of the White House and the United Nations for its unprecedented success in addressing decades-old farm labor abuses.
The Fair Food Program is an historic partnership among farmworkers, Florida tomato growers, and eleven leading food corporations. By committing to the FFP, participating corporations demand more humane labor standards from their Florida tomato suppliers and purchase exclusively from those who meet these higher standards, among them required time clocks, health and safety protections, and a zero-tolerance policy for slavery and sexual harassment. Participating corporations also pay a “penny-per-pound” premium, which is passed down through the supply chain and paid out to workers by their employers. Since 2011, buyers have paid $10 million into the FFP.
The FFP was heralded in the Washington Post as “one of the great human rights success stories of our day” and in a White House report concerning efforts to combat human trafficking as “one of the most successful and innovative programs” to that end.
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“Wendy’s calls itself ‘a cut above’ its competition,” stated Oscar Otzoy of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, “yet, Wendy’s is a cut below the rest of its key competitors when it comes to human rights, as the nation’s only major fast-food chain not participating in the Fair Food Program. They may take pride in their old-fashioned burgers, but it is definitely time for Wendy’s to end their old-fashioned approach to the human rights of the farmworkers who harvest the tomatoes inside those burgers.”
Wendy’s CEO, Emil Brolick, served as president of Taco Bell in 2005 when that company joined the FFP. At the time, Mr. Brolick announced in a joint press release with CIW:
“We recognize that Florida tomato workers do not enjoy the same rights and conditions as employees in other industries, and there is a need for reform. We have indicated that any solution must be industry-wide, as our company simply does not have the clout alone to solve the issues raised by the CIW, but we are willing to play a leadership role within our industry to be part of the solution,” adding, “We hope others in the restaurant industry and supermarket retail trade will follow our leadership.”