Ethel Kennedy led a protest near the home of Wendy’s CEO Nelson Peltz on Saturday evening. The peaceful march, which was organized by members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Alliance for Fair Food, and the Student/Farmworker Alliance, are asking Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program — which protects the rights of field workers.
As reported by My Palm Beach Post, the march began on West Palm Beach, Florida’s Okeechobee Boulevard and concluded nearly two hours later near the Intracoastal Waterway.
Although she was forced to use a wheelchair, Ethel Kennedy led the protest through the streets of Palm Beach and West Palm Beach. In addition to those who organized the march, the procession included farm workers, religious leaders, and members of the community.
Fox News reports farm workers generally work six months each year and earn around $10,000. Essentially, they earn “50 cents for every 32-pound basket they fill.”
The Fair Food Program requires fast food chains and other restaurants to supplement farm workers’ salaries. The.01 per pound pledge could increase the workers’ weekly salary by as much as $150.
The program is currently active in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, and New Jersey.
In recent years, Burger King, McDonald’s, Subway, and Taco Bell have joined the Fair Food Program. However, Wendy’s refused to comply with the protestors demands.
A spokesperson for the fast food giant explained that the workers, who pick tomatoes, are employed by a supplier — not Wendy’s. Therefore, they believe the supplier is responsible for the workers’ wages.
Although Ethel Kennedy led the protest, she did not speak at the event and did not discuss her involvement with the media.
Ethel Kennedy joins Farmworkers’ march through Palm Beach, demanding better conditions for Farmworkers! SI SE PUEDE pic.twitter.com/zdP0U8N6Dv
— RFK Human Rights (@RFKHumanRights) March 13, 2016
A native of Chicago, Illinois, Ethel attended Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart — where she met and befriended Jean Kennedy. At the age of 17, she was introduced to Jean’s brother Robert.
As reported by Biography, Robert Kennedy dated Ethel’s sister for a short period of time. However, the relationship ended when Ethel and Robert fell in love. Over the next 20 years, Ethel experienced incredible heartbreak with the loss of both her parents in a 1955 plane crash, her brother-in-law John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, and her husband Robert Kennedy’s assassination in 1968.
Following her husband’s brutal death, Ethel Kennedy founded the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. According to the center’s website, the nonprofit charity organization strives to achieve “lasting change through litigation, advocacy, and training.”
Although her life has been steeped in personal tragedy, including the untimely deaths of her sons David and Michael, Ethel has shown unwavering support for human rights.
Ethel Kennedy’s protest against Wendy’s underlines her ongoing dedication to social causes.
— Aleese Kopf (@aleesekopf) March 13, 2016
Wendy’s, which is famous for its fresh hamburgers and chili, was founded by Dave Thomas and Robert Barney in 1969. According to legend, the fast food giant was named after Thomas’ daughter — whose nickname was “Wendy.”
In 2008, Wendy’s was purchased by Triarc for just over $2 billion. Triarc’s owner, Nelson Peltz, subsequently became the fast food chain’s CEO.
It is unclear whether the protest will persuade Peltz to join the Fair Food Program, as he has resisted thus far.
Ethel Kennedy’s protest against Wendy’s gained a lot of attention. However, former President’s Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and Secretary of State John Kerry have also publicly endorsed the program.
At the age of 87, Ethel Kennedy is still protesting for human rights and other social causes. Although she has suffered tremendous loss and has been at the center of numerous controversies, the continues to fight for the rights of those who are less fortunate.
[Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for RFK Human Rights]