Following a strike last week at several Pennsylvania franchisee locations, McDonald's workers will rally in New York on Thursday and announce a March 26 mobilization outside the corporation's Chicago headquarters. The workers are students in the United States on J-1 visas from Asia and Latin America who say that they were given sub-standard employer-owned housing to live in, shifts of up to 25 consecutive hours and were threatened with retaliation if they complained or refused to work. The National Guestworker Alliance has been working closely with the students.
Josh Eidelson of the Nation has continued to cover the story:
Strikers are calling on the McDonald’s corporation to meet with them directly, sign a new labor rights agreement with protections against retaliation, and ensure that they are compensated for unpaid wages. Since launching their work stoppage last week, the guest workers have held demonstrations and met with supporters in Pennsylvania and New York. In Pittsburgh, strikers and activists held a “mic check” action inside a store, with the crowd repeating a message from a striker calling for local management to contact McDonald’s national headquarters on their behalf. At tomorrow’s noon Times Square rally, the striking guest workers will be joined by some of the McDonald's workers who staged a one-day strike three months ago. Workers also have filed formal complaints with the federal Department of Labor and with the State Department, which oversees the J-1 visa.
Workers charge that their strike has brought down an additional form of retaliation: Hours after the work stoppage began, they found themselves locked out of the employer-owned basements where they’ve been paying rent to live. NGA Lead Organizer Jacob Horwitz told The Nation that one group of workers was told by Cheung’s son Jason, who lived above the basement where they were staying, that Richard Johnson, the general manager of one of Cheung’s McDonald’s locations, needed to speak with them. Minutes later, said Horwitz, Johnson “pulled up shouting at people, screaming, ‘Get off my property! Get off my property!’” and “aggressively drove his car, nearly hitting organizers and workers.”
McDonald's so far has refused to comment beyond saying that it is looking into the matter.
Read Striking McDonald's Guest Workers Headed to CEO's Chicago Home on the Nation.