Students, consumer allies and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers gathered at a Wendy’s on East Riverside Drive Wednesday evening to boycott for farmworkers’ and restaurant workers’ rights.
Wendy’s refused to join the CIW’s Fair Food Program, a partnership between farmworkers and major food retailers that monitors work conditions among farmworkers and fast-food employees. Instead, Wendy’s shifted their purchases from Florida to Mexico, where human rights violations are “endemic” and go largely unchecked, according to a CIW press release. This national consumer boycott of restaurants will take place in more than 20 cities in different restaurants across the nation by the end
“Wendy’s’ code does not measure up to a commitment to the Fair Food Program,” CIW member Nely Rodriguez said. “In the program, retailers are bound to purchase tomatoes exclusively from growers that abide by a worker-designed code of conduct that includes zero tolerance for forced labor and sexual assault … Wendy’s cannot continue to hide behind empty standards any longer.”
Boycotters demanded Wendy’s to uphold these standards.
“We are asking for respect. We want all farmers and workers to be able to receive that respect,” said Natali Rodriguez, a member of the Student-Farmer Alliance who works with UT students. “We’re going to keep fighting and keep coming out here until farm workers and restaurant workers earn better wages.”
Boycotters held various signs and chanted in both English and Spanish, “Your burgers might be square, but your food ain’t fair,” “Wendy’s shame on you, farm workers are people too” and “We want fair food.”
After nearly 45 minutes of chanting, some boycotters marched into the Wendy’s restaurant to speak with managers and were immediately forced to leave. Outside the restaurant, managers listened to the boycotters’ complaints but did not make any comments.
Brieyle Rivers, an activist in Fight For 15, a consumer ally group, said she participated in the boycott to fight for a $15 minimum wage.
“I work 60 hours per week, making barely above minimum wage and have just enough money to pay my bills from month-to-month,” Rivers said.
Rivers said she was there to work with the farm workers and with the community to fight for more rights and better wages.
These boycotters will demonstrate again in Austin 6 a.m. on Nov. 29 at a location that is yet to be determined.