McDonald’s workers hold ‘virtual strike’ to demand coronavirus protections

PROTESTING A LACK OF PPE, employees close down the drive-thru at a McDonadl’s restaurant in Oakland, Calif. on April 21. – Ben Margot photo for USA Today

Oak Brook, Ill. (PAI) — Lack of protection against the ravages of the coronavirus, including lack of masks, no paid sick leave and no hazardous duty pay, led thousands of McDonald’s workers from coast to coast undertake a “virtual strike” of their giant fast food employer on May 20.

In-person picketers – spaced six feet apart to prevent spread of the virus – showed up at the firm’s headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., to take their cause to the fast food giant’s front door the day before its annual shareholders meeting.

Fight For $15 And A Union, which organized the protests, reported 20 other actual protests in cities elsewhere, and tens of thousands of more workers protesting online.

“I don’t think there would be strikes happening on 20 cities all on the same day, if this was not a widely experienced condition of all workers in fast-food restaurants,” said Service Employees President Mary Kay Henry. SEIU is a key backer of the Fight for $15 And A Union movement.

The movement includes not just exploited – and now endangered – fast food workers, but warehouse workers at similarly vicious firms like Amazon, gig economy workers at Uber and Lyft, adjunct professors at colleges around the U.S., and port truckers.

McDonald’s workers who couldn’t join a real picket line assembled a virtual picket line via Facebook, and used that social medium to meet with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) who once again pledged to fight for them.

Warren promised to try to insert the Essential Workers Bill of Rights – sponsored by her and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) – into the Senate version of the latest economic stimulus bill, but she may not get the chance. President Donald Trump is throwing cold water on the idea of more stimulus money, especially for workers. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to follow his lead.

The virtual strike also played out on Twitter.

“MANY companies are telling us what they are doing, yet when you talk to the workers, they tell a VERY different tale!” Alicia Cotilla tweeted.




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