Campus News

Organizations protest outside Wendy’s to improve treatment of farmers

Members of UW-Madison student organization MEChA and community members boycott Wendy’s at its State Street location Tuesday.

Image By: Ben Davis

Local protesters joined two national organizations in a boycott of Wendy’s State Street location for the fast food restaurant’s alleged unwillingness to improve the wages and working conditions of U.S. tomato farmworkers.

Members from the UW-Madison student organization, MEChA, and community members marched with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in the boycott, who concluded the Midwest part of their “Behind the Braids” tour Tuesday.

The Alliance for Fair Food, also part of the boycott, is asking Wendy’s to add an extra cent per every pound of tomatoes gathered in order to help increase farmworker pay. They are also calling on the company to implement a worker-designed code of conduct to respect the human rights of workers.

CIW member and Florida farmworker Leonel Perez said it was important for Wendy’s to recognize workers’ voices and address their basic human rights and needs.

“We want to ask all consumers, especially students and youth, to take an interest in where their food comes from and who harvests that food,” said Perez. “And, also, let them know there is a huge role they can play in ... human rights existing in the fields today.”

“Behind the Braids” targeted Wendy’s because, according to CIW, they are behind fellow fast food competitors who have collaborated with the program.

“Burger King, Taco Bell and McDonald's are all a part of this program, participating and complying with requests made,” said Perez. “Wendy’s continues to refuse to join the program, but we do know they’ll have to come to an agreement with us because the longer they wait the more people learn what’s going on.”

UW-Madison sophomore Patricia Castillo Venegas said she felt it was important to boycott because the compliance could help the annual income of tomato farmworkers who earn below the U.S poverty line of $22,000 a year.

“I feel like people get fast food and go out to eat and it’s cheap and you don’t think about where you get your food,” said Venegas. “On these farms it's not only impacting Mexican folks, or Latinx folks, it’s Haitian and Caribbean communities coming together as one to fight against these oppressive systems.”

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