Posts Tagged ‘student workers’

Student Guestworkers Demand Dignity at McDonald’s CEO’s Front Door – 3/26/13

Student Guestworkers Demand Dignity for All Workers at McDonald’s CEO’s Front Door

McDonald’s J-1 guestworkers march on CEO’s home March 26

WHAT:  McDonald’s student guestworkers march on CEO Don Thompson’s home to demand high level meeting on ending labor abuses
WHO:  International student guestworkers; members of Workers Organizing Committee of ChicagoRestaurant Opportunities Center, and labor, community allies
WHERE:  CEO Don Thompson’s Home, 8000 South Drew Ave, Burr Ridge IL 60527
WHEN:     Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 5:30 p.m. CT

Chicago,IL At 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26, J-1 student guestworkers who exposed severe exploitation and retaliation at McDonald’s restaurants will march on the home of CEO Don Thompson to personally deliver more than 100,000 petition signatures and demand an end to labor abuse.

The students delivered the petitions and demanded a high-level meeting at McDonald’s corporate headquarters yesterday, but Don Thompson refused to appear

At 5:30 p.m. they’ll bring their demands and petitions right to CEO Don Thompson’s home. Along with the petitions students will bring food from each of their countries to offer Don Thompson the cultural exchange that they were denied

McDonald’s student guestworkers from Latin America and Asia joined the National Guestworker Alliance as members 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 NationNBC NewsNPR, and the Wall Street Journal.

Since going on strike on March 6th with a demonstration outside the Camp Hill, PA McDonalds where a number of students were employees, they and their allies have demonstrated at McDonald’s stores in Pittsburgh, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C..

The McDonald’s student guestworkers have traveled the country to build support, and are seeking a high-level meeting with McDonald’s on their demands:

  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 dignified wages and full-time work to its U.S. McDonald’s workers, who are struggling with low wages and 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 labor supplier GeoVisions from the J-1 program.
  5. That the U.S. State Department agree to create a policy protecting guestworkers from retaliation and deportation if they report workplace abuse.

“Employer retaliation almost blocked these students from exposing labor abuse. McDonald’s needs to disavow that retaliation and meet with the students directly,” said Saket Soni, executive director of the National Guestworker Alliance.

VIDEO: McDonald’s Guestworkers Hold Teach-In Against Employee Exploitation and Abuse – Progress Illinois – 3/25/13

McDonald’s Guestworkers Hold Teach-In Against Employee Exploitation And Abuse
Progress Illinois

Ellyn Fortino
March 25, 2013

Some McDonald’s student guestworkers held a teach-in at the chain’s flagship store today in River North to show their solidarity for organizing Chicago fast-food workers and to expose the threats of deportation and severe exploitation they say they have faced at the hands of the company.

Standing in support of the guestworkers, members of the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago, a union for downtown fast-food and retail workers that is pushing for a $15 minimum wage, discussed documented and undocumented workers’ rights to organize.

“We have rights with documents or without,” Lorraine Chavez, outreach coordinator with theFight for 15 campaign, told the student guestworkers, who originally worked in McDonald’s restaurants in central Pennsylvania, and their allies inside the Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonald’s.

The student guestworkers from Latin America and Asia pay up to $4,000 each to participate in the U.S. State Department’s J-1 visa program, expecting decent work and a cultural exchange. But instead, they say McDonald’s used them as a sub-minimum wage exploitable workforce.

“We are complaining, because there was a contract that we signed with the employer, and that contract was violated in several ways as regards to living conditions, transportation, working conditions and the number of hours that we were supposed to be working,” said Jorge Rios, an exchange student from Argentina working at McDonald’s as part of the J-1 visa program.

“We are demanding that the CEO of McDonald’s Don Thompson agree to meet with us in person, so that we can tell him about all the abuses that we suffer as McDonald’s workers.”

After the teach-in, the students and their supporters caravanned to McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook seeking a high-level meeting and to deliver a petition with 60,000 signatures demanding an end exploitative practices at McDonald’s.

Earlier this month, the student guestworkers working at McDonald’s stores in Pennsylvania joined the National Guestworker Alliance as members and went on strike, calling on the fast-food giant to take responsibility for labor abuse at its restaurants.

Student guestworkers said they’ve received as few as four hours of work a week at $7.25 an hour. And with housing deductions, their net pay is far below minimum wage, they said.

Other student guestworkers said they have experienced extremely long shifts with no overtime pay, in addition to inappropriate living conditions.

McDonald’s announced March 14th that it would sever ties with the franchisee that employed the students, said Elizabeth Parisian, policy director for Stand Up! Chicago, which helped coordinate today’s action.

“They found the courage to speak out and actually got the attention of corporate McDonald’s, which is kind of unusual,” she said, adding that it was also a “huge victory.”

McDonald’s USA released the following statement to Progress Illinois in response to today’s action:

We take the well-being of employees working in McDonald’s restaurants, including foreign student workers, seriously. We immediately addressed the allegations in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, upon learning of the situation, and the franchisee has agreed to leave the McDonald’s system. Additionally, we have offered to speak to the Harrisburg foreign student workers on an individual basis to try to address their issues.  We have also provided resources to all of our franchisees to ensure compliance with our brand values, as well as the letter and spirit of the State Department program, which brings foreign student workers to the U.S. McDonald’s company-owned restaurant policy is to not participate in the J-1 foreign student worker program, as either a sponsor or as a host employer.

Parisian, however, says the student guestworkers’ situation is a small part of a huge labor problem at McDonald’s.

“It’s not just this guestworker program that McDonald’s needs to be accountable for and needs to make changes to, but it’s also the fact that a lot of their McDonald’s employees are also living like guestworkers, basically with not enough to feed their families, keep a roof over their head; not enough to live a decent life at all,” she said.

She added that a good portion of McDonald’s workers may not speak English and are undocumented.

“This is something McDonald’s knows, and there’s a reason for that,” she said. “I think a lot of McDonald’s owners like to have a very vulnerable workforce, because it means never give them raises and give them bad working conditions, and basically exploit them because they think ‘Here’s a vulnerable population. They’re not going to speak out.’”

Tyree Johnson has worked at McDonald’s in Chicago for 21 years. He spoke with Progress Illinois about why he stands in solidarity with the guestworkers and why he’s fighting for a $15 minimum wage:

The students’ stop in Chicago is one of many destinations as they make their way around the country speaking with labor organizations and other McDonald’s employees.

“The work the guestworkers are doing is really, really important, not just for other guestworkers in their position, but also people who are living in this country every day [and working] in places like McDonald’s and experiencing the same conditions,” Parisian said.

http://progressillinois.com/quick-hits/content/2013/03/25/mcdonalds-student-guestworkers-lead-chicago-teach-against-exploitation

McDonald’s Student Guest Workers Abuse Stirs Protest – Building Bridges Radio – 3/25/13

McDonald’s Student Guest Workers Abuse Stirs Protest
Building Bridges Radio

March 25, 2013

Click here to stream the program.

Latin American and Asian student guest workers participating in the U.S. State Department’s J-1 program, expected decent work and a meaningful cultural experience in the USA.  Instead, they were sent to  work at McDonald’s,who paid them below the minimum wage and when they complained of the exploitation were subjected to retaliation.  So, they went on strike against the Pennsylvania stores where they worked and then came in protest to NY’s Times Square McDonald’s with supporters from National Guest Worker Alliance, UnitedNY and the Retail Action Project.  There they further announced their plans to take their protest directly to McDonald’s headquarters and the home of CEO Don Thompson if McDonald’s doesn’t take responsibility for ending labor abuses for all its workers.

http://www.buildingbridgesradio.blogspot.com/2013/03/mcdonalds-abuse-of-student-guest.html

McDonald’s Guestworkers Join Forces with Chicago Fast Food Workers to Fight Exploitation – 3/25/13

McDonald’s Guestworkers Join Forces with Chicago Fast Food Workers to Fight Exploitation

Student guestworkers show solidarity for low-wage Chicago workers with teach-in at flagship Rock N Roll McDonald’s, bring their demands for worker protections to McDonald’s corporate headquarters. 

WHAT:  Teach-in by McDonald’s guestworkers on McDonald’s exploitation of J-1 visa program, in solidarity with low-wage members of the Mag Mile and Loop, followed by caravan to corporate headquarters
WHO:  International student guestworkers; members of Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago, and labor, community allies and local fast-food workers
WHERE:  The flagship Rock N Roll McDonald’s, 600 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60610, and McDonald’s Corporate Headquarters, 2111 McDonalds Dr, Oak Brook, IL 60523
WHEN:     Monday, March 25, 2013, 10 a.m. CT
CONTACT:  Davin Larson, 913-909-7641, davin@guestworkeralliance.org
                      Catherine Murrell, 312-523-3882, catherine@standupchicago.org

CHICAGO, IL—At 10 a.m. CT on Monday, March 25, J-1 student guestworkers who exposed retaliation and severe exploitation at McDonald’s restaurants will show their solidarity for organizing Chicago fast food workers by holding a teach-in inside the flagship Rock N Roll McDonald’s.

The students will be speaking to members of the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago, a new union for downtown fast food and retail workers, about how McDonald’s used the guestworker visa program to make them captive sub-minimum-wage workers. The teach-in comes at a time when business leaders are demanding an expanded guestworker program without adequate labor protections as a prerequisite to any immigration reform.

At 12 p.m. the students and their allies will caravan to McDonald’s corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, IL where they will personally deliver more than 60,000 petition signatures and call for a high-level meeting to discuss their demands.

McDonald’s student guestworkers from Latin America and Asia joined the National Guestworker Alliance as members 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, NPR, and the Wall Street Journal.

They and their allies have demonstrated at McDonald’s stores in Pittsburgh, New York City, and Philadelphia. The students have pledged to take their fight to McDonald’s Chicago corporate headquarters and to the homes of Board Chairman, Andrew J McKenna and CEO Don Thompson. They are joined in Chicago by allies from Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago, Jobs with Justice, Restaurant Opportunities Center and many others.

The student guestworkers paid $3,000-4,000 apiece to participate in the U.S. State Department’s J-1 visa 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

 

“Employer retaliation almost blocked these students from exposing labor abuse. McDonald’s needs to disavow that retaliation and meet with the students directly,” said Saket Soni, executive director of the National Guestworker Alliance.

LINKS

Campaign overviewhttp://wp.me/p1ydmm-Hg
Students on YouTubehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8lKrbD2U84
Student Petitionhttp://www.coworker.org/petitions/mcdonald-s-must-pay
Press Coveragehttp://www.guestworkeralliance.org/category/press-coverage/
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/search?q=%23McDonaldsMustPay

 

Guestworkers Who Suffered Horrific Conditions At McDonald’s Bring Grievances To Congress – ThinkProgress – 3/20/13

Guestworkers Who Suffered Horrific Conditions At McDonald’s Bring Grievances To Congress
ThinkProgress

Annie-Rose Strasser
March 20, 2013

When a group of young Latin American students arrived in the United States to work as guestworkers at a Pennsylvania McDonald’s, they thought they were in for an amazing experience — a chance to see the US up close, and to experience the culture that defines the country. But that’s not what they got at all.

Instead, Jorge Rios of Argentina, Fernando Accosta from Paraguay, Luis Fernando Suarez Mendosa of Peru, and Rodrigo Yanez of Chile say they saw the worst of American culture: The exploitation of low-wage workers with no voice.

At the McDonald’s where they were sent to work, they report that they were shoved into a basement room with six cots, and forced to pay for the inadequate lodging out of their meager wages — made all the more meager by the fact that their boss wouldn’t give them the 40 hours a week promised.

They also say they had to walk a dangerous highway to get to work:

Adding insult to injury, each student had paid $3,000 just to get into the guestworker program.

But now, in coordination with the broader National Guestworkers Alliance, those students and others have filed complaints with the State Department and Department of Labor. McDonald’s says it is investigating the complaints, which are against a single franchise owner and not the company as a whole.

The students also brought their grievances to the apex of the immigration debate, Capitol Hill, on Wednesday. They told their personal testimonies to legislators, trying to convince them that any immigration overhaul must include the language in the guestworker protections.

“When we asked for solutions, the sponsor didn’t solve our problems. When we asked for help, the Department of State didn’t assist us. I feared losing everything I had spent to come here,” said Jorge Rios, who originally contacted the Guestworker Alliance to report the abuses he experienced, “I feared being devoid of the opportunity to travel around the country. I feared suffering the humiliation of being sent back home. I feared being blacklisted and losing the chance to re-enter the US in the future. I was paralyzed by fear.”

Republicans have insisted that if they are going to consider any immigration reform legislation, a guest worker program must be a part of the package. Such programs generally bring in low-wage workers to do jobs Americans won’t, and those workers remain in the country on a J1 visa for some number of months before returning to their country of origin.

But story after story reveals that such programs have become exploitative, and the Southern Poverty Law Center has refered to the work as “close to slavery.” If an expanded guestworker program does become part of the larger immigration reform package, questions about the guestworker program and its treatment of young students are bound to come up.

http://thinkprogress.org/immigration/2013/03/20/1746711/guestworkers-mcdonalds/


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