Global strike for higher wages at McDonald’s


McDonald’s employees are planning a global strike next week.

McDonald’s workers from New York, Chicago and Los Angeles will travel to eight countries on three continents beginning Monday as part of their protest for higher wages.

‘This fast food worker movement is teaching a lot of people like me that we can speak up for ourselves, that we have rights, and that we deserve more for our families. We’re eager to take that lesson and share it with workers overseas,’ Chicago McDonald’s employee Dora Peña said in a news release.

‘We’re a global movement now.’

‘She has worked for the company as a custodian and cook for eight years and is paid $8.65 an hour,’ the release said.

The trip was organised by the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations, a federation composed of 396 trade unions in 126 countries representing a combined 12 million workers.

‘McDonald’s workers from New York City’s Fast Food Forward will travel to Denmark, Scotland, England and France; McDonald’s workers from the Workers Organising Committee of Chicago are going to Argentina and Brazil; and McDonald’s workers from Fight for $15 LA are headed to Japan and the Philippines.

Meanwhile after a mid term election night that was rather disappointing for working families and their candidates, one bright spot was the success of several state ballot initiatives dealing with some core worker issues, including wages, equal pay, education and paid sick leave.

Here’s a quick look:

• Voters approved increases to the minimum wage in Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota, as well as Oakland and San Francisco, Calif.

• In victories for working women and families, voters in Oregon approved the Equal Pay Measure and in Massachusetts a measure calling for up to 40 hours a year of paid sick leave for employees was approved. Paid sick leave measures in Oakland, Calif., Montclair and Trenton, N.J., also won.

• Measures to strengthen voting right were approved in Missouri, Montana and Illinois.

• New York voters passed Proposal 3, an education funding initiative, and in Missouri, Amendment 3, which would have weakened due process for teachers and would take local control of schools away from parents, teachers and school districts, was defeated.

• In Anchorage, Alaska, voters defeated AO-37, which would have introduced ‘right to work’ for less measures in the city and prevented collective bargaining for city employees.

• California voters also struck a blow to unfair laws and passed Prop. 47, dealing with mass incarceration and unfair sentencing for nonviolent crimes.

• Important tax and budget ballot initiatives won approval in Alaska, Illinois and North Dakota.

• Transportation funding measures were approved in Maryland, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. Clayton County, Ga., voters approved a contract with public transportation provider MARTA.

‘The defining narrative of this election was confirmation, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Americans are desperate for a new economic life,’ said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Wednesday.

After a disappointing election night, Trumka held a press conference to discuss the election and release the results of a poll conducted by Hart Research Associates that looked into the story behind the headlines. He said voters made it clear they want an economy that works for everyone.

He continued: ‘But the fact of the matter is that people are disillusioned by endless political bickering and eyed these elections with great dispirit.

‘In way too many elections, they got a false choice. In these very difficult times, they did not get a genuine economic alternative to their unhappiness and very real fear of the future.

‘But when voters did have a chance to choose their future directly – through ballot measures – their decisions are unmistakable.’

The Hart Research poll found that voters heavily supported working family issues. Voters overwhelmingly support most of the issues that the labour federation has championed in recent years: 75% support increased funding for public schools, 73% favour taxing American corporations on profits they make overseas, 62% support raising the federal minimum wage and 61% support increasing Social Security benefits.

Meanwhile, only 27% support raising the Social Security retirement age and only 18% support raising the Medicare eligibility age.

These opinions were expressed at the ballot box when voters had the chance to vote directly on the issues and not through the filter of candidates and billions of campaign dollars.

Minimum wage increases passed by large margins in Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. San Francisco and Oakland likely did the same. Four ballot initiatives supporting paid sick days passed.

‘It’s clear that American workers and their families are way ahead of the political elite when it comes to envisioning the next American chapter,’ said AFL-CIO Presideent Richard Trumka.|

‘I was out there all fall. I was in almost every contested state. I spoke to hundreds and hundreds of workers. Their desire for bold, comprehensive and lasting economic change is the most real thing I’ve ever heard.’

He also said that the AFL-CIO was building upon that public support for working family issues by pushing forward with a long-term, year-round mobilisation structure that won’t stop with elections.

The labour federation also will continue its outreach to like-minded organisations to build coalitions to press the interests of working people in the lame-duck session, with a particular focus on raising wages, immigration reform and making sure that international trade deals work for working families.

Meanwhile in the Bluegrass State anti-union Republicans failed, big time.

The Kentucky GOP (‘Grand Old Party’ Republicans) very publicly promised to put the Bluegrass State in the ‘right to work’ column if they flipped the Democratic-majority state House of Representatives. The Republicans came up short.

While Mitch McConnell beat labour-endorsed Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in the US Senate battle, the state House is still Democratic and by the same 54-46 pre-election margin.

Of course, McConnell v. Grimes grabbed the lion’s share of media attention nationally and statewide. Even so, the House results are good news for unions in an otherwise generally disappointing election.

With the Democrats holding onto the House, Kentucky will remain the only non-right to work state in the South. Jeff Wiggins, president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council, said: ‘The outcome of the House races was huge for us. All that stands between us and a right to work law is that Democratic House.

‘The state Senate has a right to work Republican majority. Gov. Steve Beshear, a union-backed Democrat, would almost certainly veto a right to work bill. But in Kentucky, a simple majority of both houses of the legislature overrides a governor’s veto.’

The House Republican candidates united to make right to work one of their top issues. Rep. Jeff Hoover, the House minority leader, stumped the state for right to work, posing for TV and newspaper cameras with local Republican candidates in tow.

A slew of GOP radio, TV and print ads touted a right to work law. The Republicans maintained such a measure would lead to dozens of companies and thousands of good jobs coming to Kentucky.

State Rep. Gerald Watkins of Paducah was one of the victorious labour-endorsed Democrats. ‘The ad was great and strong union support really helped me,’ said Watkins, one of the pro-union incumbents the GOP targeted for defeat.

Wiggins, who is also president of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9447, said a Republican majority legislature wouldn’t have stopped with a right to work law.

‘They would have repealed our prevailing wage law, too. We’d have ended up working for less money, and our workplaces would have become less safe. The Republicans would have turned back the clock to the time of no unions and the company store.’