Wendy’s sassy social media voice hasn’t been strong enough to combat the star power going after the fast food giant.
For the last few months, Wendy’s has received backlash for not joining the Coalition of Immokalee Workers‘ Fair Food Program, a “partnership among farmers, farmworkers, and retail food companies that ensures humane wages and working conditions for the workers who pick fruits and vegetables on participating farms.”
The program helps to protect the workers from sexual abuse and harassment. McDonald’s, Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut have agreed to participate in the program.
The criticism of Wendy’s started when it stopped buying its tomatoes from Florida around the time that the Fair Food Program was implemented in the state. The fast food chain then started to buy its tomatoes from Mexico.
Wendy’s has repeatedly said that the switch to Mexico was due to the tomato quality being superior in Mexico during the winter.
“Our tomato purchasing moves seasonally throughout various growing regions of North America during the year. In the warmer months, we purchase tomatoes from states like California, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia. In the colder months, we purchase tomatoes primarily from Mexico, which is what we have done for the past few years. In the past we purchased winter tomatoes from Florida, and we may do so again in the future. But right now, we are quite happy with the quality and taste of the tomatoes we are sourcing from Mexico,” writes Liliana Esposito, Wendy’s Chief Communication Officer in a blog post explaining the matter.
Wendy’s claims that the CLW is “exploiting” the #MeToo movement to collect more fees from large companies.
“There’s no new news here, aside from the CIW trying to exploit the positive momentum that has been generated by and for women in the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement to advance their interests,” said Heidi Schauer, a spokesperson for Wendy’s to the “Huffington Post.”
A few weeks ago, female farmworkers and supporter protested outside of the office of Wendy’s board chairman and hedge fund investor Nelson Peltz for five days in a row.
Stemming from the #MeToo movement, these workers have gained the attention of celebrity advocates.
American actress Alyssa Milano took to social media to applaud the farmworkers efforts and to put Wendy’s on blast.
“These incredible women, who come from one of the harshest working environments in the U.S. and who put food on our tables, are a shining example in the fight to protect the dignity and safety of all women,” said Milano on Facebook. “They have not only shone a light on the routine abuse that farmworker women face, but they have built a proven solution to bring that abuse to an end, and have become an example to millions of women across industry lines.”
Comedian and actress Amy Schumer also shared a screenshot of Milano’s post on her Instagram story.
But, Wendy’s wrote an in-depth blog explaining why the company hasn’t follow-suit with some of the brand’s competitors to join the program.
“We have always prided ourselves on our relationships with industry-leading suppliers who share our commitment to quality, integrity and ethics. We support the goals of any organization that seeks to improve human rights, but we don’t believe we should pay another company’s employees – just as we do not pay factory workers, truck drivers or maintenance personnel that work for our other suppliers,” writes Wendy’s in the blog post.
The actress criticized Wendy’s statement discarding the chain for its blatant lack of support of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement.
“Wendy's, this is very simple: These women are the #MeToo movement, which is a grassroots movement of women from all corners of society exposing the painfully common experience of sexual harassment, misconduct and assault. The Time's Up movement was created in part to "lift up the voices, power, and strength of women working in low-wage industries,” said Milano in her Facbook post.
Milano may see this as a simple decision, but Wendy’s has made it clear where the chain stands. Wendy’s instead sees this as a complex issue and argues the “easy answer isn’t the right one.”
Read more about the backlash at “People.”