Many people know about animal cruelty in the food industry. It is routinely posed by vegans and vegetarians as a reason to stop eating meat. Everyone seems to know some basic knowledge about factory farms and slaughterhouses. But what many people don’t know about is that your vegetables aren’t always farmed in humane and morally right conditions either. That’s what organizations such as the Student Farmer Worker Alliance (SFA) are working to change.
As of late, the main call to action for the SFA has been to boycott and protest Wendy’s in order to get the corporation off of college campuses. Their goal is to convince the colleges to terminate the contracts they have with Wendy’s. This campaign is catchily called the “Boot the Braids” campaign.
Wendy’s, unlike many other companies including Taco Bell, Macdonald’s, Burger King and Chipotle, hasn’t done its part in partaking in the Coalition of Immokalee Worker’s fair food alliance. This means that its farm workers are abused on an everyday basis. This includes daily injustices such as sexual abuse, violence, theft and below minimum-wage pay. During the course of an investigation into the problem of sexual harassment against farm worker women, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s San Francisco District Office found that hundreds if not thousands of farm worker women have been forced to trade sex in order to get or keep jobs or put up with a constant barrage of grabbing or touching by their supervisors. As many workers are illegal immigrants, they are scared to come forward about the violence perpetrated against them. This makes it so that farm workers are among the most exploited people in the workforce.
By not being apart of the fair food alliance, Wendy’s takes part in this cruel behavior and actively supports it. The SFA is specifically focusing in on the unethical treatment of the farmers who produce Tomatoes for Wendy’s. The company continually buys from growers who aren’t working to end unethical treatment of their staff, and refuses to pay these growers a higher amount in order to stimulate the wages of farm workers. In fact, the Wendy’s CEO actually signed the same agreement as many other of their competitors in 2005 where they agreed upon doing their part to support the Fair Food Program, but Wendy’s still hasn’t done their part.
The SFA recently won a major victory when Wendy’s was removed off of University of Michigan’s campus after years of protesting and campaigning. Monumental change was pushed forward by massive support from a student petition, a resolution from the Student Government and a powerful statement from the Michigan Board of Representatives.
And the SF alliance isn’t going to stop fighting for change anytime soon. The SFA will be holding a National Day of Action on April 18, where dozens of youth on campuses from coast to coast will drop protest banners and organize direct actions to demand Wendy’s show respect for farm workers and consumers, and finally join the Fair Food Program.
Photo: Boycott Wendy’s