Presidential candidate Gov. Jay Inslee joins McDonald’s workers strike

By Alexandra Yetter, News Editor

Democratic presidential candidate and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee joined McDonald’s workers on the picket line as they demanded safe working conditions, fair pay and the right to unionize.

Organized by advocacy group Fight for $15, the protestors marched on Thursday to McDonald’s Headquarters, 1035 W. Randolph St.

“This fight is about setting work standards,” said a 27-year veteran of the chain, who was one of many who spoke at the protest. “It’s not acceptable that the corporation still allows sexual harassment, workplace violence and disrespect on the job; it’s not acceptable that they are claiming they have policies in place that still haven’t [helped] us yet.”

In a May 23 email statement to The Chronicle, a McDonald’s spokesperson said the McDonald’s Corporation does not control the wages franchises pay in their own restaurants and it recognizes the employee’s right to join a union, if they choose to do so.

“The McDonald’s system has always had an unyielding commitment to providing a safe and respectful work environment for all,” the spokesperson said. “By strengthening our overall policy on sexual harassment, creating interactive training, a third-party managed anonymous hotline and importantly, listening to employees across the system, McDonald’s is sending a clear message that we are committed to creating and sustaining a culture of trust where employees feel safe, valued and respected.”

The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, Fight for $15 and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed 23 complaints around the company’s handling of sexual harassment in the workplace, as reported May 21 by The New York Times.

McDonald’s has been facing national criticism ahead of its annual shareholder meeting, garnering attention from politicians such as Inslee and fellow Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, as well as from actress Padma Lakshmi.

Inslee, who is largely campaigning on union rights and climate change policies, touted Washington’s economy and $15 minimum wage.

“We [have to] hold this truth self-evident—every worker in the United States ought to have a living wage … and when people tell you that if you’d like a $15 minimum wage, it’s going to wreck your economy, you tell them to come out and see me in Seattle,” Inslee said, “because we raised our minimum wage and we’re still selling a heck of a lot of hamburgers.”

McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook made roughly $21 billion in 2017, which Inslee called “unjust and unsustainable.”

“You can’t tell me it’s right that you can’t give people a raise when the CEO makes as much in one hour than the median worker in one year,” Inslee said. “That’s got to change.”