Farm workers gathered in New York's Union Square, chanting and brandishing effigies of the girl whose red pigtails and sweet smile are the mark of the Wendy's fast-food chain.

Workers marched Saturday as the company hosted its annual shareholders meeting in Midtown protesting the chain's refusal to align with the Fair Food Program, which would offer better wages and benefits to farm workers who harvest food for its suppliers, the Huffington Post reported.

Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers presented the deal, which requires that producers pay one cent more for every pound of tomato picked, boosting wages for farm workers. It also states that participants must only buy from companies who abide by a specific code of conduct that protects workers from by abuses by providing heightened labor standards.

"This campaign is about bringing corporations to establish a different way of doing business. We're asking them to be responsible and to pay a premium pay to address the sub-poverty wages that workers have received," Gerardo Reyes-Chavez of CIW told Democracy Now. "Today, for example, a worker receives, for a 32-pound bucket of tomatoes, around 45 to 50 cents. And there's been many abuses going on in the fields, like sexual harassment, situations of discrimination, verbal and physical abuse, and many other issues that need to be addressed. In the extreme, there's been cases of slavery."

The Justice Department has prosecuted at least seven cases of slavery extending to 1,000 farm workers in Florida since 1997, the Washingon Post reported. Female farm workers also face in increased risk of sexual assault, harassment and inappropriate sexual behavior when working in the field. The Fair Food Program would provide them outlets to report such conduct.

Wendy's, the No. 2 burger chain in the country, is one of the few stragglers regarding the program -- with Taco Bell joining in 2005 followed by McDonald's, Burger King, Subway and more.

Demonstrators said refusal from company's such as Wendy's is the reason for the prevalence of poor labor standards for workers.

"For us, it means better conditions," farm worker Oscar Otzoy, 29, told reporters in Spanish. "It means having the ability to report abuses like unpaid wages or sexual abuse. Slavery continues to exist in the fields because companies like Wendy's, for example, haven't joined this agreement."

The CIW recently declared a victory when it convinced Chipotle to join the other chains signed on to the deal, and aspires to continue demonstrations until all major chains comply with the deal. It attributes its successes to forging alliances with other prevalent rights groups organized by youth leaders, including the Student-Farmworker Alliance.

It appears thus far that Wendy's has still refused to join the deal. Spokespersons for the fast-food chain did not immediately respond to reporters for comment.