A farmworkers’ rights organization wants students to think twice before they buy their next 4 for $4 at Wendy’s.
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is calling for a student boycott of the Wendy’s in Jester Residence Hall because Wendy’s hasn’t signed its agreement to buy tomatoes from growers adhering to strict labor standards.
More than 14 companies, including most major fast food companies such as McDonald’s and Taco Bell, have signed onto the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program, which ensures farms lose access to big buyers if they fail to treat and pay farmworkers humanely, said Leonel Perez, senior staff member with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.
The coalition visited universities this year to request support, and members intend to visit UT in July to ask the University to use its influence.
“Ultimately that’s the only thing we ask of the University: to either cut their contract with Wendy’s or push … Wendy’s to join onto the Fair Food Program,” Perez said.
Perez said students at UT can get involved by passing Student Government resolutions or boycotting the Jester Wendy’s.
Kate Taylor, human rights lawyer and postdoctoral fellow at the UT Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, is finalizing a book about the coalition’s Fair Food Program. She said the Rapoport Center is eager to assist and support the coalition when it visits.
“We are lucky to host a passionate team of graduate and undergraduate student interns who are always excited to advocate for justice,” Taylor said. “We are proud to stand in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.”
A Wendy’s representative recently told the New York Times that their commitment to buy tomatoes from greenhouse farms “strengthens (their) commitment to treat people with respect.” But Perez and experts who spoke to the Times said greenhouse farms do not necessarily have humane labor conditions.
UT has about four years on their contract with Wendy’s, according to previous reporting from The Daily Texan, but Ximena Pedroza, national co-coordinator between the coalition and the Student/Farmworker Alliance, said she would like to see that contract cut as soon as possible.
UT students previously helped the organization boycott Taco Bell, which signed onto the Fair Food Program in 2005, according to Pedroza.
“Let’s see how we can use the Jendy’s, as y’all like to call it, to pressure the larger corporation, and get them to do what’s right,” Pedroza said.