Farmworkers, students calling on Wendy’s to join Fair Food Program

Farmworkers, Florida Gulf Coast University students, local residents and many more are coming together to protest Wendy’s and Publix for importing its tomatoes from Mexico farms.

The protest, organized by the FGCU chapter of the Student/Farmworker Alliance, is calling on Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program.

According to the press release, the Fair Food Program is a worker-driven workplace monitoring initiative that has worked to end sexual harassment and assault to tens of thousands of workers along the East Coast.

“I, myself, before the Fair Food Program, experienced sexual harassment on the part of supervisors,” said farmworker Silvia Perez. “Supervisors who would come and want to go out with the women, and this is the reality we faced.”

Fourteen major food retailers like McDonald’s and Whole Foods work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to pay one extra penny per pound of tomatoes picked.

“A penny per pound may not sound like much, but it does make a difference in the lives of farmworkers,” Perez said.

Farmworkers say that penny goes toward increasing workers wages and protecting their rights.

“We wake up really early in the morning and go to the fields, and we use a bucket as our primary tool of work,” Perez said. “A bucket, when its full of tomatoes, weights 32 pounds. And we are paid every day by the amount of buckets that we fill.”

The Immokalee workers say Wendy’s has refused to join the Fair Food Program for the last five years. Wendy’s instead sources its tomatoes from Mexico, where workers rights are routinely violated. Publix calls it a labor dispute that’s up to the farmworker’s employers, not them.

“As farmworker women and farmworker men, we all have the right to be treated fairly and equally in the workplace,” Perez said.

Perez, along with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, say they’re not giving up until both companies are on board.

“All of these changes are making a huge difference in the lives of workers and are a product of 25 plus years of struggle,” Perez said.

The protest will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 7. The march will start at the Wendy’s on 28140 South Tamiami Trail and end at Publix on 3304 Bonita Beach Road Southwest.

Reporter:Kelsey Kushner
Writer:Emily Ford
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