Apparently Wendy’s fast food restaurants are in hot water over workers’ wages. No, it’s not the Wendy’s employees who are complaining – it’s the harvesters who provide the tomatoes to thousands of U.S. franchises and company-owned stores.
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers have taken to protesting to promote workers’ rights in the fields and an extra penny per pound of tomatoes picked to be added to the workers’ pay. “Participating companies pay the extra penny-per-pound to their tomato growers to supplement field worker wages in Florida and six other states: Georgia, the Carolinas, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey. Immokalee is a southwest Florida farming town about 100 miles from Palm Beach where the coalition is based.”
To date, Wendy’s is the only major fast food chain which hasn’t knuckled under to the pressure of the coalition. McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Subway and Burger King have all signed on to the “Fair Food Program.”
Evidently, the cause is so important that it even attracted Ethel Kennedy, the widow of the late Robert F. Kennedy. Ethel, with her net worth of only $50 million, joined other oppressed protesters in a march down the sidewalks of Palm Beach/West Palm Beach, Florida, where Wendy’s billionaire CEO, Nelson Peltz resides. There the protesters “acted out a skit in which an effigy of a Wendy’s character got married to a character called ‘Mr. Exploitation.’” How quaint – and proletariat.
But last Saturday’s protest march was not the first. That’s not how these “events” work. The first protest march took place outside Peltz’s corporate offices in New York City on March 3rd. And this event had no “farm workers” at all. No, they were busy elsewhere – picking tomatoes.
The New York City event was, as were others, staged by leftist Union front groups like Democracy Now!, Alliance for Fair Food and the Student/Farmworker Alliance.
These groups are technically classified as 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations and are known as Worker Centers. These Centers are supposed to “offer education, training, employment services, and legal advice to workers, to maintain their 501(c)(3) tax exempt status,” but have instead morphed into advocacy groups for hire for protesting, lobbying, and community organizing.
“Unions desperate for new dues after decades of declining membership have embraced non-profit worker centers to do their dirty work for them. Worker centers are labor organizations that clearly fit the definition,” according to Ryan Williams, media director for the Worker Center Watch.
But if the Unions’ goal is unionization of the workers, why not just organize the protests themselves? Why farm out the “dirty work?” That has everything to do with government regulation of the two organizations. Unions and non-profit Worker Centers are treated differently by the National Labor Relations Board.
Unions are restricted under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to a “30-day picketing, unless they file a petition for representation. Worker Centers can engage in indefinite picketing,” and they take full advantage.
Worker Centers are also not required to be financially transparent like Unions. They are not required to file annual financial reports with the Department of Labor, they don’t have officer elections, nor must they even prove to be working on behalf of employees.
They are, in fact, merely tax free Community Organizers – professional protesters for hire who, amongst other things, purposely stage events in major media markets to maximize publicity. They pay protesters and bus them in so it appears there are many “workers” taking part, when in fact there are none, and pay “videographers to capture actions for mainstream and social media outlets.” They also get away with directly violating labor laws by passing out Union flyers, which they are legally not supposed to have any affiliation.
Anyone would like workers to be paid more, assuming the market allows, and ultimately it is the decision of the company, or should be. However, when these phony front groups hijack a cause, it invariably ceases to be about the workers and it seems we never hear whether or not the people these groups claim to represent actually benefit. Instead the supposed injustice magically evaporates, and the tax exempt guns-for-hire move on to the next victim.