Wendy's/Arby's Group

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The Wendy's/Arby's Group is one of the largest fast food companies in the world with over 10,200 Wendy's and Arby's outlets. Wendy's is the third largest hamburger chain in the world, behind McDonald's and Burger King. Arby's has over 3,700 outlets that specialize in roast beef sandwiches. The chain owns over 6,500 restaurants in the United States and 20 other countries. Approximately 75% of the company's chain outlets are franchised. Chairman Nelson Peltz and Vice Chairman, Peter W. May, own over 20% of the company through the investment firm Trian Partners. [1]

In the fiscal year ending in December of 2009, the company reported sales of approximately 3.58 billion dollars and had 67,500 employees.[2]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

Wendy's/Arby's Group has been a corporate funder of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).[3] See ALEC Corporations for more.

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our ExposedbyCMD.org site.

Overview & history

Founder Dave Thomas opened the first Wendy's in Columbus, Ohio in 1969.[4]

Purchase of chain by Triarc

In April of 2008, the Atlanta based Triarc Companies, owned by billionaire Nelson Peltz purchased the restaurant chain. Mr. Peltz was already the owner of the Arby's chain of fast food restaurants and a significant investor in numerous other commercial food related ventures. Triarc Companies paid approximately $2.34 billion in an all-stock deal after at least two previous buyout offers were rejected by Wendy's. According to the late founder Dave Thomas' daughter, Pam Thomas Farber, the family was "devastated" by the news:

"It's a very sad day for Wendy's, and our family. We just didn't think this would be the outcome. ...(her father) would not be amused."

The deal came as Wendy's struggled with declining profits and weak sales compared with rivals McDonald's and Burger King.[5]

Labor issues


"There's good reason such service-sector positions are called 'McJobs'," wrote Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser.

His Los Angeles Times piece described California State Proposition 72 as:

"an initiative that would require large and medium-sized business owners to give health benefits to their workers. ... The fast-food industry is the nation's largest employer of minimum-wage labor. ... Led by McDonald's, the industry has pioneered a workforce that earns low wages, gets little training, receives few benefits and has one of the highest turnover rates of any trade."

Other opponents of Proposition 72 included Burger King, Wendy's, Walgreen, Best Buy, Target, Sears and YUM! Brands (owner of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC), the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Restaurant Association. The state legislature had already passed a bill in 2003, signed into law by then-Governor Gray Davis, that required larger businesses to offer health care benefits. But fast-food companies, big box retail chains and their allies spent millions of dollars to rescind the law through the initiative process. In their campaign to defeat the initiative, the same groups ran television ads relying on "scare tactics, distortions and ... fundamental misrepresentation(s) of Proposition 72." [6] Proposition 72 failed.

Animal welfare issues

"Wicked Wendy's" campaign

Sows in gestation crates

In September of 2001, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced the end of its two month long "Wicked Wendy's" campaign. The campaign followed similar, successful campaigns against other fast food chains with goals of strengthening oversight of suppliers and improving treatment of animals before and during slaughter. The campaign garnered national publicity when "Babe" star James Cromwell, was arrested during a demonstration outside a Wendy's in McLean, Va. Modest animal welfare demands included:

  • Requiring suppliers to give egg-laying hens a minimum of 72 square inches of cage space.
  • Considering modifying chicken-slaughter methods by increasing the voltage in electric stun guns.
  • Conducting unannounced inspections of slaughterhouses and taking action against those that fail.

According to corporate image experts, like John Lister of Lister-Bulter Consulting, Wendy's made the "right move":

"Anything that reflects negatively on a brand is bad for the brand. PETA's on winning ground here. Few people will object to better treatment of animals."[7]

The group called off the campaign after the chain confirmed that it would meet the same animal welfare standards that PETA had negotiated with Burger King:

  • Conducting unannounced inspections of its slaughterhouses and taking action against facilities that fail.
  • Implementing humane catching guidelines in order to drastically reduce injuries such as broken bones, due to rough handling.
  • Requiring suppliers to providing laying hens with a minimum of 72 square inches of cage space.
  • Discontinuing purchasing from suppliers who "force-molt" chickens (starve them in order to force them to lay more eggs).
  • Immediately require suppliers to adopt air-quality guidelines for chickens.
  • Work to develop alternative housing systems for pigs.
  • Immediately apply above standards to Canadian operations.[8]

Sow gestation crates

In July of 2007, following years of discussions with PETA, Wendy's announced plans to phase in the use of crate free pork and give consideration to suppliers that use "controlled-atmosphere killing," the most advanced and humane method of slaughter available. PETA continued to pressure Wendy's to improve conditions for egg laying hens.[9]

See also animals raised & hunted for food on pigs.

Battery hen cages

Laying hens in battery cages

Animal rights and welfare groups have consistently urged Wendy's to discontinue purchasing from egg suppliers who confine their hens to battery cages; for the sake of both humane treatment of animals as well as health and food safety. In April of 2008, PETA's President, Ingrid Newkirk, sent a letter to Triarc’s CEO Roland Smith and Chair Nathan Peltz, addressing Wendy's animal welfare practices. Concerns included Wendy's use of egg suppliers which use hen battery cages; cages so small, that birds cannot stretch a wing nor engage in any kind of basic movement. Birds confined to battery cages wallow in their own waste and the waste of birds caged above them. Dead and dying birds are left to rot in cages with live birds. Battery hen cages are being phased out by the European Union (EU). Other fast food chains, such as Burger King, Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, have agreed to phase out the use of suppliers who use such intensive confinement methods. The grocery chains Harris Teeter and Safeway also agreed to drastically decrease the use of egg suppliers which use battery cages. Some corporations, like AOL, sell only cage free eggs in their cafeterias. [10]

In May of 2009, after lengthy discussions with the Humane Society of the United States(HSUS), Wendy's announced that it would start buying a minimum of 2% of its eggs from cage free suppliers. [11] According to Wendy's animal welfare program:

"2% of the eggs used in U.S. Company stores come from "cage-free" hens. We continue to evaluate this action based on animal science and best industry practices."

However, breeder and broiler chickens must be permitted freedom of movement throughout the entire house, "while being protected from harm". Wendy's also agreed to move away from sow gestation crates and encourage suppliers to adopt a comprehensive plan to eliminate them. Currently, 10% of the company's pork products come from hogs which are not confined to gestation crates; with a current goal of "20% over time." According to its animal welfare program, the company grants preference to suppliers with an ongoing plan to phase out crates; with progress "monitored through our routine welfare reviews."[12]

Animal welfare and food safety can be greatly improved by allowing freedom of movement and the ability to engage in natural behaviors. All thirteen of the most recently published studies found higher Salmonella rates in cage systems. One 2010 study found a 20 times greater odds of Salmonella infection in caged systems. See also compilation of 13 studies: 2006 - 2010. [13]

See also meat & dairy industry, sections 4 & 5 & animals raised & hunted for food, on birds.

Wendy's & tobacco

In April, 1997, Wendy's stockholders rejected a shareholder proposal to make the chain smoke-free.[14] Wendy's finally adopted a smoke-free policy in 2001, announcing the policy only after shareholders agreed to withdraw resolutions to make such requests.[15]

Political contributions

The Wendy's/Arby's group gave a total of $493,706 to federal candidates in the 2010 election cycl. election period through its political action committee, 18% to Democrats, 82% to Republicans. [16]

Public relations & lobbying

Center for Consumer Freedom

Wendy's has donated to the front group Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). CCF runs attack campaigns against health, food safety, animal rights and animal welfare advocates.

Employment Roundtable

One of its founding members of the (no longer active) front group Employment Roundtable was John T. Schuessler, former CEO of Wendy's. The group included various labor attorneys, human resources executives and CEO's. [17] Founded in September 1999, the group's stated purpose was to:

"study, act on and impact trends and information regarding the optimal employment of the U.S. labor force for mutual benefit and the common good."

According to it's website, members met every six weeks in Manhattan.[18]


Wendy's was a member of ALEC in 2011. In June of 2011, the Center for Media and Democracy began ALEC Exposed, an extensive investigation of ALEC. This campaign garnered widespread media attention in the wake of the the killing of Treyvon Martin by Alex Zimmerman, who was initially protected by Florida's "Stand Your Ground" Law. [19]. The law originated as a piece of ALEC legislation. Under public Pressure from the Center for Media and Democracy, Color of Change, Common Cause, People for the American Way, and other allies, Wendy's made the decision not to renew their 2011 membership with ALEC. [20]


Key Executives & pay

  • Roland C. Smith (56) - CEO, President - 3.22 M - Arby's restaurant group
  • J. David Karam (52) - CEO, President, Wendy's International - 2.12 M
  • Stephen E. Hare (57) - CFO & Sr. VP - 1.29 M
  • Nils H. Okeson (45) - Sr. VP, Secretary, General Counsel - 1.06 M
  • Sharon Barton (59) - Chief Admin Officer, Sr. VP - 1.23 M


Board of Directors

  • Nelson Peltz - CEO
  • Peter W. May - President
  • Clive Chajet
  • Edward P. Garden
  • Janet Hill
  • Joseph A. Levato
  • J. Randolph Lewis
  • Peter H. Rothschild
  • David E. Schwab II
  • Roland C. Smith
  • Raymond S. Troubh
  • Jack G. Wasserman[22]


Wendy's/Arby's Group
1155 Perimeter Center West
Atlanta, GA 30338

Phone: 678-514-4100

Fax: 212-451-3134[23]


Wendy's International
One Dave Thomas Blvd.
Dublin, OH 43017

Phone: 614-764-3100

Fax: 614-764-3330

Web address: http://www.wendys.com

Articles & sources

SourceWatch articles


  1. Profile: Wendy's/Arby's Group, Hoovers, accessed January 2011
  2. Key Wendy's/Arby's Group, Inc. Financials, Hoovers, accessed January 2011
  3. Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, “Corporations and Trades Associations that Fund ALEC”, Corporate America’s Trojan Horse in the States: The Untold Story Behind the American Legislative Exchange Council, online report, 2003
  4. The Wendy's Story, Wendy's, accessed January 2011
  5. Mark Williams Nelson Peltz, Billionaire Arby's Owner, Buys Wendy's For $2.34 Billion, Huffington Post, April 2008
  6. Eric Schlosser Super-Sized Deception From Fast-Food Giants, Los Angeles Times, October 2004
  7. Bruce Horovitz Wendy's steps up animal welfare standards, USA Today, September 5, 2001
  8. Victory: PETA Wins Wicked Wendy's Campaign!, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, accessed January 2011
  9. Victory: PETA Wins Wicked Wendy's Campaign!, PETA.org, accessed January 2011
  10. Industry News: PETA Challenges Triarc to Change Wendy's Practices, QSR Web.com, April 29, 2008
  11. Wendy's to begin using eggs from cage-free chickens, QSR Web.com, May 2009
  12. About us: Wendy's Animal Welfare Program, Wendy's, accessed January 2011
  13. Cage Confinement of Laying Hens Increases Salmonella Risk: The thirteen studies published in the last five years comparing Salmonella rates in cage and cage-free egg facilities, Humane Society of the United States, November 2010
  14. Wendy's email conveying information on shareholder vote, Phillip Morris, May 2, 1997, R.J. Reynolds collection, Bates No. 528752746/2747
  15. 03TIS_REVIEW.DOC, email attachment, April 8, 2003, Philip Morris collection, Bates No. 5001008656/8683, pg 8660
  16. Wendy's/Arby's Group 2010 PAC Summary Data, Open Secrets, accessed January 2011
  17. "Membership", Employment Roundtable, July 2001
  18. "The Employment Roundtable", accessed July 6, 2001
  19. Charlie Braxton: Trayvon, Justice, and a Group Called ALEC, BET, Accessed April 11th, 2012
  20. Sarah Jerving: Wendy's is the 6th Firm to say It is no Longer a Member of ALEC PRWatch, Accessed April 11th, 2012
  21. Wendy's/Arby's Group, Inc. (WEN): Key Executives, Yahoo Finance, accessed January 2011
  22. Board of Directors, Wendy's/Arby's Group, accessed January 2011
  23. Wendy's/Arby's Group, Inc., Hoovers, accessed January 2011
  24. Profile: Wendy's International, Hoovers, accessed January 2011

External articles

External resources

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