This Monday morning, over 100 McDonald’s cooks and cashiers are taking the fight straight to McDonald’s HQ to hand-deliver a letter to the company.
Check out the letter below and then add your name to our letter now >>
Our letter to McDonald’s
We are cooks and cashiers who work behind McDonald’s counters, grills and fryers across the country. And we are calling on McDonald’s – the world’s second-biggest private employer – to use its massive power and wealth to lift up people of color and our communities rather than keep us locked in poverty.
McDonald’s is a $129 billion corporation, but instead of putting some of its money into the pockets of frontline workers, the company fought tooth and nail to block us from getting higher wages, disproportionately hurting workers of color. McDonald’s even backtracked on a promised wage increase for workers in corporate stores, which, in any event, would have been far too little for far too few of us.
McDonald’s workers of all colors and creeds are united to build a better future for our children, and we are committed to doing whatever it takes to achieve that goal. To that end, we are writing to serve notice that we are joining with the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and will engage Monday in nonviolent civil disobedience to highlight McDonald’s role in keeping us in poverty.
Spending Big to Block Higher Pay
McDonald’s spends tens of millions of dollars to influence elected officials at every level of government. It ranks as one of the largest opponents of even the most basic efforts to improve wages and working conditions across the country. One of your top executives sits on the board of the National Restaurant Association, which fought to reverse a minimum wage increase passed in New York State, and, is advocating to block a minimum wage increase passed by Black legislators in Birmingham, Alabama.
When McDonald’s blocks higher pay, it hurts people of color and the communities where we live the hardest: the 21 states where the minimum hourly wage remains at the federal, poverty-level rate of $7.25 have some of the largest Black populations in the country. According to the National Employment Law Project, people of color would benefit disproportionately from minimum wage increases, as 54 percent of Black workers and 60 percent of Latino workers are paid less than $15 an hour today, compared to 36 percent of white workers. A $15 an hour wage floor would help to close the pay and wealth gaps for people of color and women, and could significantly help future generations.
‘Intimidation Tactics Straight Out of the Jim Crow Era’
In addition to lobbying against minimum wage increases, McDonald’s also tries to intimidate and silence its own workers who speak out for higher pay.
Over the past five years, when cooks and cashiers like us have gone on strike to demand a $15 an hour minimum wage and union rights, McDonald’s responded by illegally threatening, harassing and even firing workers. Rather than respecting our rights under federal law to organize and listening to our concerns, McDonald’s chose to crack down and even break the law in an attempt to bully workers of color like us who are calling for higher pay and the right to a union. When widespread sexual harassment of workers of color in your stores came to light, rather than taking steps to address the problem, McDonald’s denied responsibility for it.
McDonald’s has even colluded in illegal intimidation tactics straight out of the Jim Crow era. In Memphis, McDonald’s coordinated with the city’s police department in a widespread and illegal campaign of surveillance and intimidation in an attempt to stifle workers of color fighting for $15 an hour and union rights. Beginning in September 2014, police officers repeatedly threatened McDonald’s workers with arrest during strikes, at one point telling workers they had “authorization from the president of McDonald’s to make arrests.” In another instance, a McDonald’s franchise manager in Memphis joined a group of police officers tailing workers after a protest. These actions are wrong, and they are intended to keep workers in predominantly Black cities like Memphis from challenging McDonald’s low wages.
McDonald’s: Proof that Corporate Greed, White Supremacy are Linked
McDonald’s responded to our strikes and protests with a pledge to raise pay $1/hour above local minimum wages in corporate stores, but McDonald’s has failed to even make good on that promise. Yet, even though McDonald’s refuses to pay the people of color who work behind its counters enough to feed ourselves, the company is happy to profit off Black and Brown customers, and even targets communities of color in its ads. McDonald’s is the nation’s third-largest advertiser in Black-targeted media, spending more than $30 million every year.
In short, McDonald’s is proof that corporate greed and white supremacy are linked in America. Generations of racist policies and practices have contributed to tens of millions of Black and Brown Americans remaining trapped in poverty today, and by fighting higher wages at every turn, companies like McDonald’s help sustain the country’s system of racial oppression. That’s why, ahead of McDonald’s shareholder meeting this week, we are joining with the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival in a wave of civil disobedience to protest the systemic racism that McDonald’s helps perpetuate. We are ready to risk arrest, if needed, to hold McDonald’s accountable for its role in reinforcing racial disparities in wealth and income.
Over the past five years, McDonald’s workers have protested, risked arrest, and gone on strike in more than 400 cities across the country, and we remain ready to do whatever it takes until we win what we have demanded from Day 1: $15 an hour and the right to join a union.