May 26, 2019

Why Wendy’s Is Facing Campus Protests (It’s About the Tomatoes)

Several experts questioned the value of such reviews, which are often superficial, as well as the suggestion that greenhouse farms provide more humane work environments.

“Indoor greenhouse farms are not inherently better in terms of labor conditions,” said Margaret Gray, an associate professor of political science at Adelphi University who has studied farm labor conditions.

In recent weeks, activists affiliated with the Immokalee workers have stepped up pressure at several universities for Wendy’s to sign on to the Fair Food Program.

The effort borrows its strategy from a campaign that student activists connected to the Immokalee workers waged against Taco Bell. Over nearly four years, supporters on several campuses persuaded officials to either remove the chain from campus or block it from doing business there in the future. In 2005, Taco Bell’s parent company agreed to buy its tomatoes through the program, becoming the first major company to sign on.

Like Taco Bell, Wendy’s is potentially susceptible to protests on college campuses. A significant number of Wendy’s customers are in their teens and 20s, according to Mark Kalinowski, an industry equity analyst.

One recent focus of the campaign against Wendy’s is the University of Michigan, where, according to a statement from the company in late January, its campus franchisee has chosen not to seek to renew its lease.

Wendy’s later said the franchisee had made the decision a few years ago. But the announcement came just before the local City Council and the university’s student government passed resolutions advocating boycotts of Wendy’s.

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