Presbyterian Church (USA) Pressuring Wendy's to Join Fair Food Program

Presbyterian Church (USA) has joined the effort to get the fast food giant Wendy's to join a program meant to improve the rights of agricultural workers. However, Wendy's told The Christian Post that the company does business with suppliers who respect farmworker rights and the protest is nothing new.

Members of PC (USA) will join other groups Saturday to hold a nationwide demonstration against Wendy's in the hopes of encouraging the Dublin, Ohio based company to sign on to the Fair Food Program (FFP).

Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the PC (USA), said in a statement that FFP "is a social responsibility program that ensures humane treatment and increased pay for Florida tomato pickers."

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"At its most basic, the Fair Food Program is about loving our neighbors as ourselves; respecting them, treating them with dignity and working together with them to ensure our common well-being," said Parsons. "We are dismayed that Wendy's has yet to join this proven program and we appeal to CEO Emil Brolick to embody the resolve and foresight he demonstrated while president of Taco Bell when it became the first corporation to sign a fair food agreement with the CIW in 2005."

The demonstration PC (USA) will be part of is being organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a Florida-based farmworker organization.

According to the Fair Food Standards Council, the Fair Food Program involves among other things independent monitoring of working conditions for farmworkers and the creation of a 'penny-per-pound' premium for farmworkers.

On its Facebook page, CIW is hosting an eight-day "Week of Action" going from August 3-11 demanding that Wendy's join the other fast food companies as part of the FFP.

"As Wendy's positions itself to implement sustainable business practices and promote its sourcing of 'honest ingredients,' it must realize that respect for human rights and worker participation are integral components of the genuine sustainability that today's consumers expect and demand," reads the event page for the "Week of Action."

Bob Bertini, spokesman for Wendy's, told The Christian Post that the burger chain has experienced protests from CIW in the past.

"We have experienced protests by the Coalition of Immokalee workers at our Restaurant Support Center in Dublin, Ohio, and other locations in the past. This is not new news," said Bertini.

Bertini also told CP that while not part of the FFP, Wendy's does business with suppliers who respect farmworker rights.

"Because of our high standards, we pay a premium to our tomato suppliers in Florida. In turn, we expect them to take care of their employees. The harvesters do not work for us," said Bertini. "Importantly, all of Wendy's tomato suppliers in Florida have signed and abide by the Fair Food Program agreement, which helps ensure safe and proper working conditions."

Bertini directed CP to a webpage on the Wendy's site titled "Supply Chain Practices" which among other things outlined the chain's opposition to the CIW's demands.

"CIW demands we make payments to employees of the companies who supply our tomatoes from the Immokalee area in Florida -- even though they are not Wendy's employees," reads the entry. "We believe it's inappropriate to demand that one company pay another company's employees. America doesn't work that way."

For its part, Presbyterian Church (USA) intends to hold their demonstration at a Wendy's located in Louisville, Kentucky.

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