United Church of Christ supports Fair Food Program, Wendy's boycott
The church is now the third religious group to stand behind a campaign driven by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW).
Pressure is mounting against one of North America's leading fast food chains to join the Fair Food Program, a tomato worker support initiative with signatories including Subway, McDonald’s, Whole Foods, Chipotle, Sodexo, Trader Joe's, Walmart, Ahold USA and Whole Foods.
Spearheaded by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), the program has expanded beyond Florida-grown tomatoes to include new crops and states.
The CIW has pushed for several large retailers and foodservice outlets to join the scheme, but now several external groups have come out in support of a boycott of food chain Wendy's until the company joins.
Joining the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as well as T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, the United Church of Christ (UCC) has taken a stand alongside farmworkers and formally endorsed the Wendy’s boycott.
The church has about one million followers in the United States, and supported the CIW in a previous boycott against Taco Bell which ultimately proved successful in 2005.
"The United Church of Christ has a long history of standing with farm workers against the injustice and invisibility that often accompanies the labor that satiates our consumerism," said the church's Reverends John C. Dorhauer and Dr. Traci D. Blackmon in a joint statement.
"For ten years the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has asked Wendy’s to join other industry partners, by participating in the Fair Food Program in partnership with tomato growers, farm workers, and buyers, to improve the lives of farm workers.
"For 10 years the request has been simple and fair: a zero-tolerance policy for slavery and sexual harassment, an additional penny per pound of tomatoes picked, and a formal grievance policy to address worker concerns."
The Reverends said the church's members' comforts could not be provided "at the expense of our neighbor’s discomfort".
"For 10 years the request has been simple and fair: a zero-tolerance policy for slavery and sexual harassment, an additional penny per pound of tomatoes picked, and a formal grievance policy to address worker concerns," they said.
"Ten years is long enough to simply ask a major corporation to do the right thing."
Readers can click here for a more in-depth explanation of what the Fair Food Program means for farm processes and farmworker treatment.