The Panhandle Fair Food Alliance is bringing the fight for migrant worker rights to Pensacola. Panhandle Fair Food Alliance protested outside of the Wendy’s on 9th Avenue over the weekend to encourage Wendy’s corporate offices into joining the Fair Food Program (FFP) and educate the public on the program.
The Fair Food Program is a set of rules of conduct against forced labor, sexual harassment, wage theft and other misconducts to insure farmworkers are not being abused by their employers. The program is asking corporations to pay an additional penny-per-pound to compensate the workers. Several major corporations such as Walmart and Whole Foods have already agreed to be a part of this program.
The Panhandle Fair Food Alliance, a nonprofit in support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), supports the Boycott Wendy’s movement as an effort to force Wendy’s into cutting ties with farms that abuse their workers like some tomato fields in Florida.
“The Fair Food Program gives migrant farmer workers more protection against abuse and exploitation,” said Johnny Ardis Coordinator of Panhandle Fair Food Alliance. “It gives them better working conditions and better pay.”
The Department of Agriculture estimates that about half of the farmworkers in the US are undocumented, so this program would be granting worker rights to illegal immigrants.
“Migrant farm workers are easily the most exploited segment of society, so this program brings a little dignity to their lives, better humane treatment, better working conditions,” said Ardis. “This is good for them, and it’s working too.”
The results of the FFP show that the program is improving the lives of farmers in the US.
A study commissioned by the dairy industry suggested that if immigrant labor were completely eliminated, milk prices would increase by 90 percent.
“They are here working jobs that most Americans are not willing to do, so they deserve to be treated like human beings,” said Nick Breland a community activist who has been working with the Alliance for the past few months.
Wendy’s corporate said they refuse to be a part of the FFP because they don’t want to pay more, and they prefer to buy from Mexico’s tomato farms, where sexual assault is even more rampant. The manager of the 9th Avenue location refused to comment.
“As Wendy’s positions itself to implement sustainable practices and promote its sourcing of “honest ingredients,” it must realize that respect for human rights and worker participation are integral components of the genuine sustainability that today’s consumers expect and demand,” said the Panhandle Fair Food Alliance.