McDonald’s Guestworkers Hit NYC to Stop Labor Abuse – 3/13/13

McDonald’s Guestworkers Hit NYC to Stop Labor Abuse

Student guestworkers faced wage theft, 25-hour shifts, severe exploitation

WHAT:  Protest by McDonald’s guestworkers, allies to end McDonald’s labor abuse
WHO:  International student guestworkers; 50-100 labor, community allies
WHERE:  McDonald’s Times Sq., 1560 Broadway (btw. 46th & 47th), NY, NY 10036
WHEN: Thursday, March 14, 2013, 12 p.m. ET

NEW YORK, NY—At 12 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 14, J-1 student guestworkers who exposed severe exploitation at McDonald’s restaurants will demonstrate at a Times Square McDonald’s to demand a meeting with McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson on ending labor abuse.

McDonald’s student guestworkers from Latin America and Asia joined the National Guestworker Alliance and went on strike on Mar. 6 from the Central PA stores where they had worked, demanding that the fast food giant take responsibility for labor abuse at its restaurants. Their fight reached the pages of The Nation, NBC News, and the Wall Street Journal.

The student guestworkers paid $3,000-4,000 apiece to participate in the U.S. State Department’s J-1 student guestworker program, expecting decent work and a cultural exchange. Instead, McDonald’s used them as a sub-minimum wage exploitable workforce. Students faced:

  • As few as four hours of work a week at $7.25 an hour, with exorbitant housing deductions that brought their net pay far below minimum wage
  • Shifts as long as 25 hours with no overtime pay
  • Being packed into employer-owned basement housing, up to eight students to a room, for $300 each per month
  • Retaliation by McDonald’s franchisee Andy Cheung and labor supplier GeoVisions against students for exercising their labor rights, including further cuts to hours and surprise home visits


At the Times Square McDonald’s, students announce will announce plans to take their fight to McDonald’s corporate headquarters and the home of McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson. The students and their allies are demanding:

  1. That McDonald’s pay students back all the money they are owed, including the money they spent to come work for the company, unpaid overtime, and housing overcharges;
  2. That the McDonald’s franchisee offer full-time work to its U.S. workers, who are struggling with too few hours;
  3. That McDonald’s reveal all the guestworkers at its stores, sign an agreement guaranteeing their basic labor standards, including non-retaliation against workers who organize to stop abuse;
  4. That the U.S. State Department protect future J-1 students by barring McDonald’s franchisee Andy Cheung and labor supplier GeoVisions from the J-1 program.


“McDonald’s is the latest U.S. corporation to turn guestworker programs into a source of cheap, exploitable labor,” said Saket Soni, executive director of the National Guestworker Alliance. “Congress is considering a huge expansion of guestworker programs as part of immigration reform—one more reason workers need POWER Act protections that will let them expose abuse without fear.”


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