Foreign student workers petition McDonald’s president for restitution – The Patriot-News – 3/7/13

Foreign student workers petition McDonald’s president for restitution
The Patriot-News

March 7, 2013
Eric Veronikis

In an online petition, the 15 foreign student workers who staged a protest at the McDonald’s on Trindle Road in Hampden Township on Wednesday have asked McDonald’s president and chief executive officer, Don Thompson, for the following:

  • The money they are owed, including money they spent to come work for the company, unpaid overtime, and housing overcharges.
  • That McDonald’s offer full-time work to its U.S. workers, who are struggling with too few hours.
  • That McDonald’s reveal all the stores where it employs guestworkers and sign an agreement with the National Guestworker Alliance to guarantee basic labor standards for them, including protections from retaliation when workers organize against abuse.

Guest workers and about 50 supporters from across Pennsylvania protested franchise owner Andy Cheung’s operations, claiming he has exploited his guest employees who work in three of the six midstate McDonald’s he owns.

They also said Cheung forces guest workers to live in cramped, deplorable conditions in the basements of three houses he owns in the Harrisburg area.

Four of Cheung’s guest workers were locked out of their basement living quarters in the Hampden Township house they reside in when they arrived home Wednesday night following the protest.

Cheung, who is secretary of the board of directors of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central PA, has not respond to repeated interview requests.

Spokespeople for McDonald’s Corp. and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central PA could not immediately be reached for comment.

The foreign employees came to work at Cheung’s McDonald’s through the U.S. State Department’s J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program. Foreign guest workers participating in the J-1 program are brought to the U.S. by host organizations, which work with local employers like Cheung to find jobs for students.

Chueng’s guest workers were brought here by a group called GeoVisions, which the foreign workers are asking the State Department to bar from further participation in the J-1 program, said Stephen Boykewich, spokesman for the National Guestworker Alliance, which helped organize the protest.

Most of the students have been working in the midstate for three to four months.

Spokespeople for the State Department and GeoVisions have yet to respond to interview requests.


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