On June 22 over 50 Unitarian Universalists gathered outside the Wendy’s on Woodruff & High calling attention to the nation-wide boycott of the Ohio-based fast food chain.  The protest happened in tandem with the Unitarian Universalist Association, with hundreds of thousands of members worldwide, officially endorsing the Wendy’s boycott.

It’s a new chapter of a long story: the Free Press has covered the now 3 ½ year campaign urging Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) for farmworker dignity.  The Program entails corporations paying one penny more per pound of tomatoes purchased and agreeing to buy from reputable farms that uphold basic rights such as breaks, shade, and zero tolerance for wage theft and sexual harassment — conditions all too common in the industry. All of Wendy’s major competitors in the fast-food industry — McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell and Chipotle — are partners in the Program. 

The boycott — only the second in the CIW’s history — was precipitated by Wendy’s recent decision to stop buying tomatoes from growers who support the Fair Food Program.  Having moved its purchasing out of Florida, where workers enjoy the strongest human rights protections in American agriculture thanks to the Fair Food Program, Wendy’s now purchases instead from Bioparques, the Mexico tomato company that was recently prosecuted for using slave labor.

Rev. Dr. William Shulz of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee addressed the crowd about this shameful move by Wendy’s: “Wendy’s slogan ought not to be ‘quality is our recipe.’ It ought to be ‘exploitation is our recipe, oppression is our recipe, slavery is our recipe’!”

Rev. Allison Farnum, a minister from Fort Meyers, Florida (a short drive from Immokalee) who has worked with the CIW for years, addressed the crowd in the wake of the recent massacre at The Pulse club Orlando which left 49 people dead, mostly queer Latinos. “They have shown up in places of solidarity because they understand suffering anywhere must be ended,” Rev. Farnum said about the countless members of the CIW who have attended vigils holding space for the victims in Orlando.

In this spirit of solidarity, Unitarian Universalists have committed to support the Wendy’s boycott until they treat the farmworkers in their supply chain with respect and dignity.