By Nicholas Sakelaris
Sept. 18 (UPI) — In an unprecedented move, fast food workers in a number of cities across the United States went on strike Tuesday to protest sexual harassment.
Some workers have shared tales of groping, inappropriate advances and sexual assaults — stories that have prompted McDonald’s workers in 10 cities to walk off the job and call for zero tolerance toward those workplace incidents.
Employees say in many cases, management didn’t take their claims seriously.
“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,” McDonald’s employee Tanya Harrell, of New Orleans, said in a statement.
McDonald’s issued a statement saying they have engaged experts from RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, to look at company policies so all employees have a secure work environment.
“We have strong policies, procedures and training in place specifically designed to prevent sexual harassment,” McDonald’s said.
Strikes were planned in Chicago; Durham, N.C.; Kansas City; Los Angeles; Miami; Milwaukee; New Orleans; Orlando, Fla.; San Francisco and St. Louis.
Tuesday’s walkout marks the first time the #MeToo movement has organized a labor strike.
Workers said they want McDonald’s to create an anti-sexual harassment committee and enforce a zero-tolerance policy. Also, they’re calling for mandatory training for managers so they know how to handle claims appropriately.
Female workers say harassment cases have ranged from inappropriate comments to groping to attempted assault. In most cases, they say, the reports were ignored or no report was made out of fear of retaliation.
Nine McDonald’s employees filed sexual harassment charges against the company in May. The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund helped pay the fees to take the complaint to the U.S. Equal Employement Opportunity Commission.
The strike is related to the Fight For $15 movement, in which workers are calling for a better minimum wage. That campaign has focused on several companies, including McDonald’s.
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