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Ethel Kennedy leads farmworkers' protest near home of Wendy's billionaire chairman

  • Immokalee, UNITED STATES:  Ethel Kennedy (L), widow of Robert F. Kennedy, listens to Lucas Benitez, a leader of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), as she and others toured a large migrant farmworker community in their first stop of the "Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Poverty Tour: A Journey for Economic and Social Justice" in Immokalee, 150km (90 miles) northwest of Miami, 23 April 2006. The CIW is currently fighting with large food corporations for a raise in wages and workers rights who currently gain depressed worker wages and lack basic health insurance and other basic labor rights. About seventy five percent of the workers are immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala.    AFP PHOTO/Roberto SCHMIDT  (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

    Immokalee, UNITED STATES: Ethel Kennedy (L), widow of Robert F. Kennedy, listens to Lucas Benitez, a leader of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), as she and others toured a large migrant farmworker community in their first stop of the "Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Poverty Tour: A Journey for Economic and Social Justice" in Immokalee, 150km (90 miles) northwest of Miami, 23 April 2006. The CIW is currently fighting with large food corporations for a raise in wages and workers rights who currently gain depressed worker wages and lack basic health insurance and other basic labor rights. About seventy five percent of the workers are immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala. AFP PHOTO/Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)  (2006 AFP)

  • FILE - In this April 16, 2010 file photo, members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers take part in a march through the streets of Tampa, Fla., to try to persuade the supermarket chain Publix to pay more for its tomatoes and take a stand against abusive work conditions in the fields. The farmworkers coalition is suing Palm Beach, alleging the wealthy town's ordinances effectively bar its constitutional rights to hold a demonstration near the home of a billionaire fast-food executive. The coalition wants a federal judge to allow a demonstration March 12, 2016, near the home of Wendy's board chairman Nelson Peltz. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

    FILE - In this April 16, 2010 file photo, members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers take part in a march through the streets of Tampa, Fla., to try to persuade the supermarket chain Publix to pay more for its tomatoes and take a stand against abusive work conditions in the fields. The farmworkers coalition is suing Palm Beach, alleging the wealthy town's ordinances effectively bar its constitutional rights to hold a demonstration near the home of a billionaire fast-food executive. The coalition wants a federal judge to allow a demonstration March 12, 2016, near the home of Wendy's board chairman Nelson Peltz. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

Hundreds of protesters, many farmworkers, led by Ethel Kennedy, demonstrated near the home of Wendy's fast food chain's chairman in hopes of convincing the company to pay a penny-per-pound fee for its tomatoes to supplement some farmworkers' wages.

The Palm Beach Post reports the Immokalee Coalition of Farmworker' march near billionaire Nelson Peltz's home was peaceful Saturday. A federal judge had ruled the coalition could use loudspeakers but said marchers must remain on the sidewalk. Kennedy, the 87-year-old widow of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, led the charge onto the barrier island where protesters held signs to boycott the chain and some acted out a skit.

Tomato harvesters make an average of about $10,000 during the six-month season, earning 50 cents for every 32-pound basket they fill. The coalition says the program can add $20 to $150 to their weekly checks.

The coalition has used demonstrations and sometimes consumer boycotts to pressure the five largest fast-food companies — Wendy's, McDonald's, Burger King, Subway and Taco Bell — into joining its "fair food program." All but Wendy's eventually joined. The company has said the farmworkers are not Wendy's employees and it doesn't feel it is appropriate to pay another company's workers.

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.

Peltz, a 73-year-old investor, has a net worth of $1.35 billion and is the 423rd richest American, according to Forbes Magazine. One of his companies, Triarc, bought Wendy's in 2008 for $2.3 billion and he became chairman.

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