The fast-food restaurant chain Wendy’s may not be the first thing that pops into your head when you think of modern-day slavery.
But it certainly is for the rowdy group of protesters who gathered in West Palm Beach, Florida this weekend, calling for the fast-food giant to join the Fair Food Program. According to the protesters, doing so would mean Wendy’s would join McDonald’s, Walmart, Burger King, Chipotle, and other companies in ethically sourcing its food from trustworthy farms and helping to end modern-day slavery.
Their demands were intended for the ears of billionaire Palm Beach resident Nelson Peltz, the current Wendy’s chairman, as well as the owner of the investment fund Trian Partners, a part-owner of Wendy’s.
“‘Our biggest push right now,” Natalia Naranjo, from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, explained in an interview with WPTV, “is getting Wendy’s to publish and talk about where they are harvesting their tomatoes from.”
The Fair Food Program is an agreement between the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and tomato growers, which is designed to protect workers from sexual harassment, mistreatment, and unfair wages.
“Trying to get a clear idea whether or not they do have these cases of abuse. Whether or not there are these cases of modern-day slavery within the fields they are purchasing from,” Naranjo added.
The coalition “aggressively” engages in boycotts of companies that buy tomatoes without participating in its Fair Food Program, according to Worker Centers.
“The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) is a worker center founded in November 1994 by tomato pickers from Florida to protest low pay,” the labor union watchdog group said. “The group aggressively engages in secondary actions against buyers of Florida tomatoes who do not pay the group’s ‘penny-per-pound’ to increase farmworker wages. The group has also entered into an arrangement with the Florida tomato-growers trade association (the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange), which represents their employers, to obtain higher wages.”
The protests come amid preparations for the glamorous, $3.9-million nuptials of Nelson Peltz’s daughter, Nicola Peltz, to Brooklyn Beckham, the son of British celebrities David and Victoria Beckham.
The wedding is expected to take place next weekend at Peltz’s $100-million, 44,000-square-foot beach mansion in Palm Beach, and it will be quite a high-society affair, which some are calling “Miami society meets British celebrity.”
Brooklyn Beckham and Nicola Peltz met in 2017 and were engaged in 2020. Nicola Peltz is an actress, best known for starring in the A&E series “Bates Motel,” as well as appearing in “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” Beckham, aside from being the son of famous footballer David and pop star Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham…well, that’s about all he’s known for.
Despite the half-a-billion-dollar fortune of his parents, Brooklyn is a relative pauper beside his heiress fiancee, whose father is worth an estimated $1.7 billion. This apparently prompted his signing of a prenuptial agreement, which was a very sensible if less than romantic precaution on the part of the bride-to-be.
David and Victoria Beckham, along with other family members, have already arrived in Miami for the upcoming wedding. The ceremony is expected to be attended by a wide array of celebrities, including actress Eva Longoria, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, former Spice Girl Melanie Brown, and even Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen.
Meanwhile, in glaring contrast to the glamorous wedding preparations, protesters marched past the Palm Beach offices of Nelson Peltz’s Trian Partners, carrying cardboard cutouts of Peltz’s face, or dressed like “Wendy,” or holding signs advising bystanders to boycott the fast-food chain.
When asked to respond to the protests, the company told WPTV that “Wendy’s does not participate in the Fair Food Program because there is no nexus between the program and our supply chain…Further, Wendy’s has an established Supplier Code of Conduct that applies to significant suppliers of The Wendy’s Company and our North America restaurant system, and we also require third-party reviews related to the human rights and labor practices for suppliers of certain hand-harvested, whole, fresh produce such as tomatoes. The idea that joining the Fair Food Program, and purchasing field-grown, commodity tomatoes, is the only way that Wendy’s can demonstrate responsibility in our supply chain is not true.”
But these claims were hardly satisfactory for Yaissy Solis of the Alliance for Fair Food.
“Wendy’s says they can’t join the Fair Food Program because none of their current suppliers participate in the program,” she explained in an interview with WPTV, “but that’s just a dodge. Wendy’s could either come back to their longtime Florida suppliers (who they abandoned back in 2015 precisely because those farms joined the FFP) or bring its current greenhouse suppliers into the Fair Food Program, either way, would work. It’s really very simple.”
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