A fast, when done in protest, is a call to arms. While eminently non-violent, it is a battle cry, issued in a whisper.
For five days last week, nearly 100 farmworkers and their allies fasted outside the offices of Nelson Peltz’s hedge fund investment firm, Trian Partners, at 280 Park Avenue in Manhattan. They did so because Wendy’s has not only refused to join the Fair Food Program — widely recognized as the only human rights monitoring program to have successfully eliminated forced labor and sexual assault in the agricultural industry — but has shifted its tomato purchases from Florida to Mexico, where slavery and sexual assault remain all too common, and workers are intimidated into silence by a culture of violence, fear and corruption.
And they did so because Wendy’s is structured in such a way that Mr. Peltz is the single most important decision-maker in the company. Mr. Peltz’s Trian Partners is not only the company’s largest shareholder, but Mr. Peltz is also the Chairman of Wendy’s Board of Directors, his son and partners at Trian are members of the Board, and Mr. Peltz is the head of the Board’s committee on social responsibility. For all intents and purposes, Mr. Peltz is Wendy’s and Wendy’s is Mr. Peltz, particularly when it comes to the question of social responsibility and, specifically, ending violence against women.
And so, for five days, nearly 100 farmworkers and their allies fasted outside Mr. Peltz’s offices in the heart of Manhattan, broadcasting their call to action to all who would hear their demand: Wendy’s, stop sexual violence in your supply chain, now, by joining the Fair Food Program!
And on the fifth day, their call was answered. The fasters’ battle was joined by nearly 2,000 consumers, a crowd as, at once, fierce and joyous as any that has ever taken the streets of midtown Manhattan in protest. With a wildly successful “Time’s Up Wendy’s March,” the Freedom Fast came to a close, the fasters broke bread in a beautiful nighttime ceremony, and a new chapter was written in the story of the Wendy’s Boycott and the Campaign for Fair Food…