NATIONWIDE — More than 100 local government officials from over 70 jurisdictions and 30 states are calling on McDonald’s to take concrete action to stop sexual harassment in its stores. In a letter to the company’s CEO Steve Easterbrook, the officials decry McDonald’s failure to protect its workers from groping, lewd comments, and other forms of harassment and violence, and demand that it bring workers to the table to establish a policy to eradicate sexual harassment.
“If McDonald’s is to seriously address sexual harassment, it will do what two dozen leading women’s and sexual violence prevention advocates, nearly 60 members of Congress, and its workers from coast-to-coast are demanding: meet with the people who face sexual harassment in McDonald’s restaurants, hear their stories, and, together with them, craft real solutions,” the leaders write.
The 100-plus leaders who signed onto the letter are the latest elected officials across the country who are calling on McDonald’s to take immediate steps to address sexual harassment. In June, eight senators, including four presidential candidates, wrote to Easterbrook demanding action on sexual harassment; and in July, some 50 members of the U.S. House of Representatives wrote to the CEO, calling on McDonald’s to meet with its workers and come up with a plan to stamp out harassment on the job.
In the letter, the local leaders write that McDonald’s recent announcement “simply falls short” of addressing the company’s sexual harassment problem and that any policy must be required to be instituted in franchise stores and not just corporate ones.
Many of the city council members, county commissioners, mayors, school board members and other local government officials signed onto the letter after meeting with McDonald’s worker leaders in Detroit in late July, where workers shared their stories of sexual harassment on the job and efforts to organize for their rights.
“By speaking out, these brave women who work at McDonald’s have put their jobs at risk,” said Supervisor Marcelia Nicholson, a leader of the initiative and supervisor on the Milwaukee, WI County Board of Supervisors. “They’ve risked getting their hours cut or retaliation from their bosses. They are fighting for a better future for thousands and thousands of their coworkers and so many others in the fast food industry,”
Organized by Local Progress, a network of progressive local elected officials from around the country, the letter is the group’s first coordinated action in support of McDonald’s workers organizing around sexual harassment. But in the coming weeks, local elected officials will explore other ways to support McDonald’s workers. Elected officials with Local Progress have led on raising minimum wages, enshrining paid sick days into law, guaranteeing fair workweek protections, and much more in dozens of localities around the country.
“Workers’ most basic right should be to feel safe in their workplaces and carry out their jobs with dignity,” said Alderman Rossana Rodriguez Sánchez, of Chicago’s City Council. “McDonald’s needs to do the right thing and ensure an environment free of sexual harassment for its workers, along with a living wage.”
In the last few years, McDonald’s workers have filed more than 50 complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging sexual harassment on the job. The charges reveal repeated efforts by workers to seek assistance from management after experiencing sexual harassment on the job, only to have their complaints brushed off or ignored, or, in some cases, even mocked; many felt the brunt of retaliation—from reduced hours to unwarranted discipline to termination. Workers have also taken action across the country demanding the company act, including outside McDonald’s Chicago headquarters and on strike lines in over 10 cities, the first walkout over sexual harassment in the country in more than 100 years.
Local Progress is a network of progressive local elected officials from around the country united by a shared commitment to equal justice under the law, shared prosperity, sustainable and livable cities, and good government that serves the public interest.