Union members help McDonald’s protesters take their message national – The Patriot News – 3/13/13

Union members help McDonald’s protesters take their message national
The Patriot News

David Wenner

Some of the J-1 exchange students who walked off their jobs at several Harrisburg-area McDonald’s last week planned to take their protest to New York City on Thursday.

The trip was scheduled to include a stop at a McDonald’s in Times Square, where protesters planned to demand a meeting with the McDonald’s national CEO.

Since their Harrisburg-area protest last week, the protesters who remain in the United States have been working with union-affiliated groups and labor movement members who are helping them travel throughout the United States.

Some of their time will be spent with U.S. union members and laborers who are protesting the treatment of bottom-rung U.S. workers.

The J-1 students, who had been working at three Harrisburg-area McDonald’s franchises for about three months, are demanding that the national McDonald’s chain compensate them for wages and overtime pay they say they are owed, and the cost of their housing, for which they say they were overcharged.

They also want McDonald’s to pay them for the cost of coming to work in the United States, which is $3,000 per person or more.

They further want McDonald’s to give full-time work to more American employees, and to disclose how many foreign students are working at McDonald’s restaurants around the country.

A McDonald’s spokesperson couldn’t immediately be reached on Wednesday. The company had said it was investigating the students’ claims.

The Harrisburg-area protest involved 14 J-1 students who were employed at three local McDonald’s franchises owned by Andy Cheung, who hasn’t commented publicly on the students’ claims.

Some of the students claim they were required to work excessively long hours, while others said they were given far less than the 40 hours per week they expected.

They also claim they were charged above-market rent to live in homes owned by Cheung, who they say deducted the rent from their paychecks.

The students, with the help of lawyers from the National Guestworkers Alliance, filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. State Department, which oversees the Summer Work Travel program that brought the students to the United States. The two federal agencies are investigating.




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