AP NEWS

Union embroiled in #MeToo scandal holds McDonald’s sexual-harassment walkout

September 19, 2018

The McDonald’s walkout Tuesday over sexual harassment was organized by the SEIU, the service-employees’ labor union grappling with its own #MeToo woes.

The protest, which accused McDonald’s of “doing nothing about sexual harassment,” came with the SEIU facing a sexual-harassment lawsuit after a year in which four male senior staffers resigned or were fired amid allegations of misconduct involving female employees.

Center for Union Facts executive director Richard Berman described the specter of the SEIU leading a sexual-harassment protest as “comedic.”

“The fish rots from the head, and the recent sexual harassment scandals go all the way to the rotten top of the SEIU,” Mr. Berman said. “Their systemic negligence that allows a culture of sexual harassment to spread throughout the SEIU is embarrassing for the organization. For these union hypocrites to lecture others is comedic.”

The McDonald’s one-day walkout in 10 cities took place as the SEIU’s Fight for $15 campaign continues to pressure the fast-food chain to unionize. Ten McDonald’s employees have filed sexual-harassment complaints against management, the union said.

In Chicago, protesters outside the McDonald’s headquarters chanted, “We’re here, we’re loud, sexual harassment is not allowed,” and “respect us, accept us, don’t try to touch us,” according to NBC News.

“It’s sad that we have to walk off the job in order to be treated with respect at McDonald’s, but we’re not going to stay quiet while the company ignores the harassment we’re facing,” Tanya Harrell, a McDonald’s worker from New Orleans, in a Fight for $15 press release.

McDonald’s and the fast food industry, by their constant silence, has proved where they stand on sexual harassment. Today, workers nationwide strike. #FightFor15 #metoo pic.twitter.com/bmEOw3S4M9 SEIU (@SEIU) September 18, 2018

McDonald’s responded by saying it had “strong policies, procedures and training in place specifically designed to prevent sexual harassment.”

“To ensure we are doing all that can be done, we have engaged experts in the areas of prevention and response, including RAINN, to evolve our policies so everyone who works at McDonald’s does so in a secure environment every day,” said the company statement on Eater.com.

The spate of firings failed to squelch the SEIU’s sexual-harassment problems. SEIU-UHW staffer Mindy Sturge filed a complaint May 17 alleging that the California-based office “fostered a discriminatory workplace” that included “offensive touching,” and accused SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan of sexual harassment.

The document posted on Payday Report accused the SEIU-UHW’s “employees and managing agents” of engaging in “discriminatory conduct and retaliation against Sturge, resulting in her humiliation, embarrassment, a physical assault, and a violation of her right to privacy.”

A union spokesman said the case was “without merit,” adding, “We stand by the actions the organization took in handling the matter,” the Washington Free Beacon reported.

Meanwhile, Mark Raleigh, the former Fight for $15 Detroit leader who was fired in November, filed a defamation lawsuit in May accusing SEIU President Mary Kay Henry of trying to score political points with the union’s mostly female membership.

In his complaint, he said Ms. Henry “apparently decided that this would be a good opportunity to increase her stature, her political visibility, and hide her own transgressions and prior sheltering of alleged misconduct if her Union publicly identified and fired male harassers within her organization.”

SEIU spokeswoman Sarah Lonardo told Courthouse News that the lawsuit was “without merit.”

“SEIU will continue to fight to ensure that all workers are treated with dignity and respect, and that SEIU staff have a workplace environment where all staff are respected, their contributions valued, and their voices heard,” she said.

AP RADIO
Update hourly