Although the press surrounding the #MeToo movement has predominantly focused on victims and perpetrators who work in media and entertainment, sexual harassment is pervasive in less high-profile industries and suffered by employees at jobs of all kinds — including "America's best first job," according to new reports stating that McDonald's workers around the country are planning a strike to protest what they say is an insufficient response by the company to sexual-harassment claims at the company's restaurants.
The Associated Press reports that McDonald’s workers in multiple states have voted to stage a strike at lunchtime on September 18 as a means of urging management to do more to prevent and respond to sexual harassment on the job. Planned for 10 cities — Chicago, Durham, Kansas City (Missouri), Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Orlando, San Francisco, and St. Louis — it is expected to be the first multistate strike in the U.S. with a focus on sexual harassment. The strike may not affect all McDonald's locations within these cities.
Specifically, AP reports, strikers are demanding that McDonald's improve the procedures for receiving and responding to harassment complaints, make anti-harassment training mandatory, and form a national committee to address sexual harassment. The committee would include workers, representatives from stores, and women’s group leaders.
Allure reached out to McDonald's for comment, and a representative for the company provided the following statement: "There is no place for harassment or discrimination of any kind at McDonald’s. Since our founding, we’ve been committed to a culture that fosters the respectful treatment of everyone. We have policies, procedures, and training in place that are specifically designed to prevent sexual harassment at our company and company-owned restaurants, and we firmly believe that our franchisees share this commitment."
The statement goes on to say that in addition to existing initiatives, McDonald's is working with organizations like RAINN and Seyfarth Shaw at Work to evolve its policies, procedures, and training in regard to sexual harassment.
The impending strike is the latest spotlight to be shined on the service industry's sexual-harassment problem, which was addressed earlier this year by the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues in a hearing titled "Beyond the Headlines: Combating Service Sector Sexual Harassment in the Age of #MeToo." Before the March hearing, caucus co-chair Representative Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) told Allure, "This is an economic issue for women and families. A lot of people say it's about sex — it's not about sex. It's about people abusing their power over others and depriving them of being able to care for their families because of environments in their work which are very, very abusive. There's been a lot of attention given to the survivors of abuse by people like Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer — and not to take anything away from what [those survivors] suffered, but we wanted to shine a light on service-related industries, where [a lot of] the survivors or the victims are not coming forward because they are truly powerless."
From the looks of this strike, however, it seems they may not be so powerless after all. Hopefully, McDonald's will take the walkout as seriously as it deserves to be taken and make the changes being demanded.
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