#MeToo is not just for Hollywood: McDonald’s workers strike in 10 U.S. cities to protest sexual harassment
From Hollywood’s Harvey Weinstein to media giant Les Moonves, the #MeToo movement to hold accountable the abuses of powerful men is growing. In a powerful display of that growth, McDonald’s workers went on strike to protest sexual harassment in 10 U.S. cities this past Tuesday.
While #MeToo was founded by a Black woman grassroots organizer, Tarana Burke, many have criticized that since the movement was popularized through the grievances of Hollywood actresses and personalities, it would find difficulty relating to the concerns of poor, working class, Black, and Brown women. The McDonald’s workers are showing that at least some of those concerns have been heard.
The actions took place in Durham, Los Angelos, New Orleans, Miami, San Francisco, St. Louis, Orlando, Milwaukee, Kansas City, and Chicago.
In Chicago, strikers walked to McDonald’s headquarters, chanting, “Respect us! Accept us! Don’t try to touch us!” and “We’re here, we’re loud. Sexual harassment is not allowed!”
McDonald’s worker Adriana Alvarez told the Chicago strikers, “Today, fast-food workers just like me are breaking the silence, we’re taking the historic step and we’re going on strike to tell McDonald’s no more sexual harassment.”
Earlier this year, McDonald’s workers filled sexual harassment complaints in different cities with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Last week, organizing committees were created by women workers at McDonald’s restaurants to lead a nationwide strike. Organizers noted that hundreds of workers and supporters attended their committee meetings. The walkout began on Tuesday, September 18th at noon.
The campaign is also demanding better working conditions and higher wages, echoing the “Fight for 15” campaign.
— Fight For 15 (@fightfor15) May 24, 2018
McDonald’s, as a multi-billion dollar franchise, and has long been the target for labor unions working to win higher wages. For many, this demand is intimately tied with a safer workplace environment. McDonald’s denies the harassment claims, and the company told the Associated Press in an email, “We have policies, procedures and training in place that are specifically designed to prevent sexual harassment at our company and company-owned restaurants, and we firmly believe that our franchisees share this commitment.”
The company also mentioned the launch of a new initiative that will involve experts and organizations to better their anti-harassment policies. One mentioned organization is RAINN, a group that works to end sexual violence.
But lawyer Mary Joyce Carlson, who worked with the lead organizers to file complaints with the EEOC, states, “We see no evidence there’s been any change at all. Whatever policy they have is not effective.”