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Union Hands Out Leaflets at McDonald’s Restaurants

December 23, 2008
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Union activists distributed fliers at nearly 100 McDonald’s restaurants nationwide Thursday, December 18, encouraging workers and customers to support federal legislation designed to make it easier for workers to unionize.

Members of the Service Employees International Union took the action in response to Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald’s Corp.’s encouraging restaurant owners to oppose the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, a union spokeswoman said.

“We want people to support the Employee Free Choice Act so workers have the right to organize without fear and harassment,” the spokeswoman said. “It remains to been seen whether McDonald’s will stop its lobbying activity against the bill.”

The bill, currently pending in Congress and supported by President-elect Barack Obama, would eliminate secret ballots in union organizing votes and allow unions to organize a workplace by obtaining the signatures of a majority of the employees on registration cards.

Business interests vigorously oppose the so-called card-check bill, which is a centerpiece of organized labor’s efforts to reverse a decades-long slide in union membership by breaking into industries like fast-food restaurants, where organizing efforts have had little success.

McDonald’s USA president Don Thompson urged 2,400 franchisees to “contact your U.S. senators and representatives to oppose” the Employee Free Choice Act in a November 25 memo. He also indicated that McDonald’s formed a “response team” to help franchisees “actively participate in the opposition to the EFCA.”

McDonald’s didn’t return calls late Thursday, but issued a statement to the union indicating the purpose of the memo was to “inform and educate our system about legislation that could impact their business,” adding that “McDonald’s is not engaged in an anti-union campaign.”

Filed by David Sterrett of Crain’s Chicago Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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