The following is an excerpt from the MTSO resolution, which was written and presented by Yvonne Zimmerman, Associate Academic Dean and Associate Professor of Christian Ethics:
“The purpose of the Wendy’s Boycott that CIW is asking MTSO to endorse is to pressure Wendy’s to protect the human rights of farmworkers by joining the Fair Food Program… What endorsing the boycott does do is formally express that MTSO recognizes the moral claim that the farm workers who make Wendy’s corporate profits possible have on the corporation regarding its responsibility to ensure fair wages and safe working conditions."
Why should MTSO endorse the Wendy’s boycott?
Endorsing the boycott fits squarely with the commitments named in our institutional mission to justice, sustainability, and generativity. The value of sustainable justice that we proudly and prominently espouse is an intersectional conception of justice that includes within its purview immigrants, farm workers, and people who are vulnerable to sexual violence. Sustainable justice cannot be a value we claim only for ourselves and the school’s property; rather, it is one that we must put in service to the common good, starting with the most vulnerable and exploitable. Supporting the basic rights and dignity of migrant farm workers is absolutely consistent with our institutional mission.
We are people of public faith. Religious commitments without public expression is mere sentimentalism. We do not pursue the transformed world we espouse by failing to take a stand to resist injustice when we are invited to do so.
The Wendy’s corporation is located almost literally in our backyard, down Route 315 just fifteen miles in Dublin. This is not someone else’s issue; it is our issue. We have the opportunity, and are being asked by the Coalition to Immokalee Workers, to give moral leadership by being the first seminary to join the long list of other religious groups and organizations that endorse the Wendy’s boycott, including the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Disciples of Christ, several Episcopal dioceses and the National Council of Churches. We are not being asked to stand alone and, indeed, we will be in excellent company.”
With social justice at the heart of its mission, the Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO) was founded with the intention of being a powerful catalyst for social change. In keeping with that mission, MTSO has historically been on the right side of history. In the 1960s, the seminary courageously expressed public support for the civil rights movement during a turbulent and dangerous time for racial justice in the country. Today, over 50 years later, MTSO remains steadfast in its support of fundamental human rights by calling on its hometown fast-food giant Wendy’s to join the award-winning Fair Food Program.
MTSO community members have played an integral role in shaping the movement for Fair Food in Columbus, Ohio, for years. Since the inception of the Wendy’s Campaign, farmworker leaders have been invited to speak to students in countless classrooms and lead workshops at seminary events to raise consciousness on campus around the Campaign for Fair Food. The late Patrick Kaufman, CIW friend and a revered member of the MTSO staff, embodied the intersection of faith and social action, most notably through his – and his son’s – participation in a seven-day fast alongside Ohio State University students to remove Wendy’s from campus.
Consumers of the 21st century demand more than empty promises and a snarky Twitter feed. MTSO’s endorsement of the Wendy’s Boycott is a clear example of how today’s consumers can stand with farmworkers in promoting equity, justice and integrity in the food system.
The wonderful news from MTSO kicks off an exciting national week of action in the Wendy’s Boycott, with hundreds of students, people of faith, and consumers of conscience preparing to take the fight for farmworker justice to the doorstep of Wendy’s restaurants around the country. Thanks to MTSO’s endorsement of the Wendy’s Boycott, the arc of the moral universe bends just a little bit more towards justice. MTSO’s endorsement also shows the way for more institutions to follow suit and publicly denounce Wendy’s unconscionable decision to reject the world’s leading workplace protection program and instead continue relying on failed social responsibility practices.
Stay tuned for more updates on the Student/Farmworker Alliance’s national week of action soon! If you are organizing an action but don’t see it listed, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. And be sure to check out the action toolkit for sample press releases, flyers, creative ideas and more.
-the immokalee crew