For years, Wendy's has turned a blind eye to the call of the U.S. farmworkers' union, Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), to join The Fair Food Program, an advocacy project that ensures the welfare and protection of farmers. Now, the group is bolstering their campaign to put a mounting pressure on the fastfood chain.

The Farmworkers' Protest

The CIW is staging a protest march on Thursday, March 3, at 4 p.m. from W 58th, near Columbus Circle, to Trian Partners at 280 Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, near the office of Wendy's Chairman Nelson Peltz.. The group, together with farmworkers, religious leaders, students and consumers, aims to launch a national boycott of Wendy's.

"Ten years ago, we sent a letter to Wendy's asking them to follow Taco Bell's example and work with us to protect farmworkers' fundamental human rights in their supply chain," said CIW's Cruz Salucio in a statement.

"They refused then, and they continue to turn their backs on farmworkers to this day, even as we built a groundbreaking new approach to social responsibility in partnership with Florida tomato growers and fourteen other major food retailers."

The Reason Behind the Wendy's Boycott

Participants of the Fair Food Program agree to pay an additional fee that goes into the pockets of these farmers to augment their income. They are also required to choose suppliers who pass the standards of a worker-driven Code of Conduct under the Fair Food Program.

According to CIW, the protest is necessary because Wendy's refusal to join the Fair Food Program is like turning one's back on the opportunity to work for the protection of farmworkers against slavery, sexual abuse and other unfair practices in the industry.

What Wendy's Has to Say

In response, Wendy's spokesperson Bob Bertini said they have their own reasons why they prefer to buy from Mexico at this time, one of which is seasonality, reported Nation's Restaurant News. The fastfood chain also makes sure that its suppliers comply with local and national laws, as well as the standards that the industry requires.

While the company makes it a point to work with suppliers who are part of the Fair Food Program, they are not keen on paying the additional pound-per-penny charge because they find it unnecessary.

"These individuals are not Wendy's employees, we have not thought it appropriate to pay another company's workers -- just as we do not pay factory workers, truck drivers or maintenance personnel that work for our other suppliers," Bertini explained.

To date, Wendy's, the third biggest hamburger chain in the world, remains the only major fast food corporation that is not part of the Fair Food Program. McDonald's, Yum! Brands, Subway and Burger King have all chosen to join the cause, along with other major food retailers such as Walmart, Taco Bell and Chipotle.