Thursday, March 20, 2014

Workers Strike Back, Make Gains Against McDonald's Wage Theft

New York pushes for hotline for workers and other protections in fight against fast food giant

Jacob Chamberlain
Protestors arrest Ronald McDonald at McDonald's protest, 341 5th Avenue in New York City (Photo: Kevin Short, Huffington Post)Following a legal settlement in the first of a series of class-action lawsuits charging fast food giant McDonald's with mass wage-theft across the country, New York State officials announced on Tuesday plans to establish of a wage theft hotline, where fast food workers can anonymously blow the whistle on abusive employers.

“It’s hard enough for low-wage workers to survive in this economy,” said Tish James, the New York City public advocate at a demonstration outside a McDonald’s restaurant in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s practically impossible to do so when wages are being stolen.” James announced that her office is proposing legislation to establish the hotline for “workers who are being victimized by major corporations who are making billions off their hard work."

The hotline would be part of a larger legislative proposal to crack down on wage theft and other labor abuses at fast food chains in the state. The proposal includes: an expansion of city agencies’ authority to investigate wage theft; City Council hearings with McDonald’s’ CEO and franchise owners and city council members; and pressure on McDonald’s Corporation to establish universal rules forcing its franchise owners to follow the law.

The move follows a settlement between New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman and the owner of seven McDonald's franchises in New York state on Tuesday, forcing the owner to pay roughly $500,000 to 1,600 fast-food workers for stolen wages.

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