United Church of Christ

Boycott Wendy's: Stand with Farm Workers!

“Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts” (James 5:4)

Boycott Wendy's!For 10 years Wendy’s has refused to participate in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program  which protects the human rights of Florida farm workers – shielding them from sexual harassment, child labor, and even slavery and boosting their pay by one penny per pound of tomatoes.

As people of faith we cannot stand by why workers are exploited. Honor the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ boycott of fast-food giant Wendy’s. Join members of the United Church of Christ and many other people in supporting farm workers!

Support the Boycott

  • Do not buy from Wendy’s and encourage others to boycott. Sign the plege to join the boycott here.
  • Engage your congregation in the Boycott.
  • Encourage your youth group to get involved and lead this effort  to educate the congregation, honor the boycott, lift up the workers during worship, and visit the Wendy’s manager.
  • Visit a local Wendy’s alone or with a friend or two and deliver a letter to the manager telling him/her that you are boycotting Wendy’s and why. 

Standing in Solidarity with Farm Workers

On May 12, 2016, the United Church of Christ board of directors approved the boycott of Wendy’s – the giant fast-food chain – in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group of farm workers based in Immokalee, FL.

For many years these farm workers, who primarily pick tomatoes, have struggled to improve their wages and working conditions. They ask tomato buyers – firms like Wendy’s – to participate in the Fair Food Program. This is a partnership among growers, farm workers, and tomato buyers to improve the lives of farm workers. There is a zero-tolerance policy for slavery and sexual harassment, workers receive a pay raise (an additional penny per pound of tomatoes picked) and a grievance procedure to properly address concerns in the fields.

For ten years, Wendy’s has refused to join the Fair Food Program while all its major competitors – McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, and Taco Bell – have joined. So in March, 2016, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers called a consumer boycott of Wendy’s to continue until Wendy’s joins the Fair Food Program.

Why does the United Church of Christ care?

Read the official Resolution of Witness from the United Church of Christ Board of Directors.

natinoal-farmworkers-ministry-350.jpgGod’s concern for the poor is at the heart of our Christian ethic of economic justice. Our biblical heritage teaches us that caring for the poor, the least among us, and the stranger are central to our understanding of God’s mercy and our willingness to welcome Christ among us. As people who follow the example of Jesus by lifting up the image of table as a primary understanding of Christian life, fellowship, and stewardship, we must humbly acknowledge and confess that those who harvest the food for our dining tables are unable to feed their own families due to unjust wage structures.

There are thousands of farm workers in the state of Florida who labor under difficult and harsh conditions to provide us with food. These workers suffer injustice from discrimination, sexual harassment, poverty wages, dangerous working conditions, and deplorable housing. Our sacred scripture expressly forbids such treatment, saying: "You shall not withhold the wages of the poor and needy laborers, whether other Israelites or aliens who reside in your land in one of your towns" (Deuteronomy 24:14-15). James wrote, “Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts” (James 5:4). We are called to ensure that God’s abundance, given to us all, is equitably shared so everyone lives in the fullness of life. Within a capitalist system of wage labor, this means that everyone must be paid a living wage and be treated with dignity on the job.

God envisions a world where all God’s people have everything they need to thrive, live lives of wholeness, and have the opportunity to be the people they were created to be. To make God’s vision a reality, God calls the Church to action, to “loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6). We are called to answer God’s call to be co-creators with God of a world “where justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream” (Amos 5:24).

Who are the workers?

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is a 23-year-old organization of farmworkers based in Immokalee, FL., who primarily harvest tomatoes. Farmworkers endure difficult and dangerous conditions in the fields, very low pay, and few benefits, and must deal with sexual harassment, racial discrimination and even slavery. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has had remarkable success in combating these ills. Today, 14 major food retailers participate in the Fair Food Program which has eliminated modern-day slavery and sexual violence in the Florida tomato fields, improved farmworker wages for the first time in decades, and guaranteed basic protections for workers. Participating retailers agree to purchase exclusively from suppliers (growers) who meet a worker-designed Code of Conduct which includes a grievance procedure and 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 directly to farm workers by their employers.

For over 10 years, the CIW has been asking Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program. Wendy’s major competitors including McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, and Taco Bell all participate. Since 2013, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has had a special focus on Wendy’s with rallies, marches, letters, and other efforts. But Wendy’s has resisted joining. Moreover, starting last year, the firm halted all tomato purchases in Florida and instead is buying from growers in Mexico where, according to an in-depth investigation by the LA Times, “many farm laborers are essentially trapped for months at a time in rat-infested camps, often without beds and sometimes without functioning toilets or a reliable water supply, … [where]some camp bosses illegally withhold wages to prevent workers from leaving during peak harvest periods, [and] it's common for laborers to head home penniless at the end of a harvest.” In short, Wendy’s has turned its back on successful efforts in Florida to protect workers’ basic human rights and has moved its supply chain to Mexico where human rights abuses are rampant.