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McDonald's sign in Times Square
The student guest workers who last week walked off the job to protest conditions at the Pennsylvania McDonald's restaurants where they were working on J-1 cultural exchange visas protested at a Times Square McDonald's this week.
In a statement e-mailed during the protest, McDonald’s announced that [franchise owner] Andy Cheung “has agreed to leave the McDonald’s system.” The company added that it was “also working on connecting with the guest workers on an individual basis to most effectively address this situation,” and providing franchisees with information about the J-1 visa program’s requirements. The National Guestworker Alliance did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the McDonald’s announcement.

McDonald’s did not immediately respond to a request for further comment regarding the strikers’ demands, which include providing full-time work for US employees, disclosing where guest workers are employed in its stores, signing an agreement establishing organizing protections for workers, and ensuring that the students are compensated for unpaid wages. [...]

In an e-mailed statement, striking students called the McDonald’s announcement “an important admission of labor abuse at its stores,” but said that, “a change of management at three stores will not protect the guestworkers and U.S. workrs at McDonald’s 14,000 other stores in the U.S.” The strikers reiterated their call for a meeting with the company’s CEO “to come to an agreement on how to protect all McDonald’s workers.”

As the students insist, the way to address the kind of abuse they faced isn't one-on-one. This is a problem both with McDonald's more generally and with the J-1 visa program, and has to be addressed from the top.

  • Unionized workers at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore have a new contract—but their fight isn't over. The contract is only for a year, and the next contract will have to deal with health coverage concessions the hospital is demanding.
  • New Orleans cab drivers are "independent contractors," except they have no real control over their work or working conditions. They're organizing to change that.
  • How do you know what's made in the USA and what just has an American flag on it? And what laws govern claims about being made in the USA?
  • An in-depth look at women day laborers in a Hasidic neighborhood, and an effort to make sure they know their rights.
  • The myth of the overpaid public worker, Illinois edition.
  • This would be progress:
    Voters in Albuquerque, New Mexico passed a city ordinance increasing the minimum wage by an overwhelming margin last November, and people we talk to across the state think it makes sense to extend an increase for all New Mexicans. Last Monday, the state Senate passed a bill to increase the statewide minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $8.50, and the state House is considering a similar bill this week.

    In Minnesota, the state legislature is starting to consider an increase in the state’s minimum wage, with committee votes expected in the state Senate next week. We’ve found strong support among people we’ve talked to for a higher minimum wage—support that has been reflected in public polling as well.

    Presumably New Mexico's Republican governor would veto a minimum wage increase, but if she did, it would certainly be something that could factor in a future campaign against her.
  • As more people pay for coffee and pastries with their credit cards, coffee shop workers are losing out on the loose change tips they used to get. The DipJar might be an answer to that.
  • I've sort of been hoping I wouldn't have to fully learn about this whole Sheryl Sandberg "Lean In" thing, but this piece by Ellen Bravo on leaning together would be good either way:
    What helps many women move past fear is not having to act alone. Support from other women in the same situation—and even more, taking action as a group on behalf of all of us as we address the external barriers—gets us on our feet, turning our personal struggles into power.

    Across this country, groups of women, many of them in the most precarious and least supportive jobs, are already leaning in because they have been leaning together. [...]

    More and more, these women are leaning together, in groups like the National Domestic Workers Alliance. NDWA brings together the women whose skilled and valuable work makes possible all other work—including that of corporate executives, as Sandberg acknowledges. Women working as nannies and housekeepers and home care workers are gathering to share their stories and their dreams. By recognizing each other's strengths, they begin to see, value and understand their own. And the needs that they experienced as individual struggles become something different: conditions they can change together.

  • Graduate research assistants at Oregon State University voted to unionize by a nearly nine-to-one margin.
  • Corporate-approved state bills kick low-wage workers while they're down.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 11:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos Labor.

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Comment Preferences

  •  What a lot of people in the so-called first world (10+ / 0-)

    country of the United States of America do not understand is that a lot of people in teh so-called third world or developing countries have a strong sense of injustice and workers' rights.

    Public protests are more common in Latin America than the USA by far. Worker's unity is more common. Community (that dreaded word) is often in evidence.

    This particular J-1 "cultural and educational exchange opportunities" guest worker program has been used by our country's largest corporations -- the fast food and hotel industry in particular -- to abuse workers who have little recourse.

    Having to pay to obtain a job at which you will barely be paid is absurd.  The workers subsidize their own employment!  Talk about regressive abuse in the Land of the Free©!

    I think it is great that these workers are highlighting the injustices they've experienced at the hand of McDonalds.

    Besides all that:

    Program sponsors are responsible for screening and selecting eligible foreign nationals for participation in their designated exchange visitor program, as well as supporting and monitoring them during their stay in the United States.
    The "program sponsors" are corporations. The State Department doesn't vet "Exchange Visitor Work Program" applicants!  Talk about a huge loophole in the Security State© apparatus....

    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

    by YucatanMan on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 11:13:18 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this diary and other labor diaries (6+ / 0-)

    They are so important.  In this day and age where union bashing is routine and accepted in the public square and encouraged, we need to fight against this and stay vigilant.

    Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

    by wishingwell on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 11:17:16 AM PDT

  •  Isn't "the Dip Jar" just another way for banks to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tinfoil Hat, judyms9, BentLiberal

    capture a slice of the formerly cash exchange in business?

    For each "dip" or swipe of a debit or credit card, the bank gets a cut.  Whether it comes out of the "dippee's" or "dipper's" pocket doesn't matter to the bank one whit.

    Where once the physical money was directly exchanged between tipper and tippee, now a third party takes a percentage.  

    You have to love the gall of the banking system, don't you?  

    The same is true in states where welfare and other support funds are paid via debit cards.  The bank gets a cut of welfare money!

    Isn't it time that the banking system's drag on the economy were eliminated?  The biggest welfare recipients in the nation's history need to go cold turkey.

    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

    by YucatanMan on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 11:18:26 AM PDT

  •  My dream and what I worked towards is (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tinfoil Hat, judyms9, Bluehawk

    a revitalization of labor unions. We need to fight against union busting with every fiber of our being and never stop. Just as we fight inequality and biogtry, we need to also keep fighting for the worker and for unions.

    My dream is that once again, the labor movement grows, expands , becomes more commonplace....it may take decades for this to once again become a reality. I may not live to see it but I dream, it is possible to happen again.

    Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

    by wishingwell on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 11:19:51 AM PDT

    •  I'm hoping too. Social media should facilitate (0+ / 0-)

      a more rapidly growing membership and the type of multiple and overlapping alliances that would allow labor to succeed.  Unity is key as always, and the corporate world is striving mightily to keep that from happening.  Note that McDonald's response is to have their franchise people handle these guest worker complaints individually.  That's it.  Keep the peons isolated from one another.  

      Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

      by judyms9 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 11:54:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wut? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bluehawk, Roadbed Guy

    You can get visas approved for a "cultural exchange" with a Pennsylvania McDonald's?

    Seriously?

    Fuck me, it's a leprechaun.

    by MBNYC on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 11:32:40 AM PDT

  •  What idiot would pay $3,000 dollars to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bluehawk

    come to the US to work at McDonalds?  Never heard anything so ridiculous.

  •  "President Obama once said... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    judyms9

    ...he wants everybody in America to have a job. What a snob."

    ego sum ergo ego eram

    by glb3 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 11:48:32 AM PDT

  •  why can fast food legally employ non-US workers? (0+ / 0-)

    Why is it legal for any fast food restaurant to employ non-US employees?  These are the type of low skill / minimal skill jobs that the ranks of the unemployed in many areas could fill.  Why isn't this illegal?

  •  Keep the minimum wage low so that we will (0+ / 0-)

    once again see four generations living in three-bedroom houses because no one can afford to leave.  And if they make enough to start their own household, they still can't leave without endangering the family that still needs their share of the shelter money.  
    Lap this up, wingers, because that useless son or daughter-in-law and the noisy grandkids will be living with you for-ev-er.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 11:59:46 AM PDT

  •  Of course I copied and pasted part of the email (0+ / 0-)

    Mickey D's statement.  I left in the non-spell checked errors.

    Mostly Bla, Bla Bla legal ease speak.

    Psst!!!......Mittens you are more of a poor loser than I thought.

    by wbishop3 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 12:00:31 PM PDT

  •  guest worker program should be eliminated... (0+ / 0-)

    until everyone in this country who needs a job has a job!  

  •  That one-on-one thing -- just likeWalmart did (0+ / 0-)

    Faced with a strike, the corporations want to speak with the workers one-on-one, to take away their strength of numbers

    Don't trust anyone over 84414

    by BentLiberal on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 02:23:42 PM PDT

  •  What I don't understand about the J-1 (0+ / 0-)

    Is, where is the money coming from that flies the J-1's to the US to work for minimum wage for a few weeks?

    I worked for a poster company once, where we went from college to college to sell posters and assorted things.  I'd say that 70% of the crew was from Poland, and England.  I think they hired Americans to hedge against J-1's who didn't quite have the English skills and J-1's that didn't have a driver's license.  But I digress.  The pay was slightly above minimum wage, and the only thing they paid for was the hotel rooms, and even that came out of the amount you made during the day ( we took credit cards, but you'd be surprised how many people paid in cash.)

    At the end of the 5 weeks of travel, I think I came out with around $200, which was better than nothing.  I'm not sure how the J-1's fared, as the one's I had run into on the road were going to theatre shows and buying souvenirs.

  •  Also this week: Patriot Coal Co. drops the bomb... (0+ / 0-)

    Patriot Coal Co. filed a motion in a federal bankruptcy court aimed at breaking the back of the United Mine Workers:

    http://www.umwa.org/...

    These Patriot Coal guys are particularly sleazy, and the UMWA deserves the support of all Kossacks out there.

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