Golden Arch Blues
McDonald’s confessed that its latest business plan could founder on “The impact of campaigns by labor organizations and activists...to promote adverse perceptions of the quick-service category...or our brand, management, suppliers or franchisees, or to promote or threaten boycotts, strikes or other actions.”
The company made this fear public in a report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in early March. They also cited the negative impact of a “long-term trend toward higher wages and social expenses...which may intensify with increasing public focus on matters of income inequality.”
Recent protests against the chain included a wave of one-day strikes that began in New York and spread to a hundred cities. Isabel Vazquez, 16, a McDonald’s worker in Chicago, spoke for the group Low Pay is Not OK: “The company should be worried about continued worker protests, because we are not going to stop taking action until we win $15 [hourly wage] and the right to form a union without retaliation.” The average hourly wage for cashiers and crew members at McDonald’s is $7.66.
Kellogg’s Lockout in Memphis
A five-month labor dispute has dragged on at Kellogg’s Memphis cereal plant, where 226 employees have been locked out after a breakdown in labor negotiations. Union leaders have accused the breakfast food giant of illegally operating outside of a more than 50-year-old master agreement.
“The company’s trying to get cheaper labor, just because they want it, not because they need it,” said Kevin Bradshaw, president of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 252G in Memphis. Bradshaw said his members have lost their health insurance and are now without coverage. The union has set up a “hardship fund” to help affected employees with their mortgages and other costs.
Union employees at Kellogg’s competitor Post Foods in Battle Creek, Michigan, donated more than 40 boxes of cereal to the strikers. “They’re our union brothers,” said Local 374 United Cereal Bakery & Food Workers President Mark Banaszak.