A lengthy Bloomberg article spotlighting President Donald Trump’s long affinity for McDonald’s—which preceded a major decision from a federal agency that involved the fast food giant—revealed Thursday morning that thousands of previously unreported company documents and internal emails expose how “corporate executives monitored developments as managers helped orchestrate a years-long anti-union response across the U.S.”
Bloomberg reviewed McDonald’s internal records and reported that the company’s “tactics, which were discussed by and, at times, coordinated by regional executives of the company, included gathering intelligence from a cashier who attended a union meeting as a mole, circulating names of suspected pro-union workers, and coaching a franchisee on how to avoid hiring union sympathizers.”
McDonald’s and several of its franchises had turned over the documents to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in response to a federal judge’s subpoena, which came as part of a years-long case that involved the question of whether McDonald’s is a “joint employer” and thus liable for labor law violations committed by its franchisees.
Bloomberg‘s report came just hours before the NLRB—which is chaired by a Trump appointee—issued a split ruling instructing a federal judge to approve a settlement in the McDonald’s case that does not include a joint employer finding. The Wall Street Journal called the development “a victory for the world’s largest fast food chain as it faces calls to improve working conditions at its 14,000 domestic restaurants.”
Those calls ramped up in 2012, in the form of the national Fight for $15 campaign, which is supported by labor groups including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). McDonald’s has remained a key target of the campaign—which called the NLRB ruling “illegitimate” and accused Trump administration agencies of “making decisions in the interest of corporations like McDonald’s and not the American people or the law.”
“The settlement is not valid,” the campaign said in a statement, promising a forceful appeal. “McDonald’s is walking away with a get-out of-jail-free card after illegally retaliating against low-paid workers who were fighting to be paid enough to feed their families.”
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Ahead of the NLRB ruling Thursday, SEIU president Mary Kay Henry also vowed to appeal any decision that didn’t serve workers.
Henry told Bloomberg in a statement that “it’s going to take a lot more than a politically motivated decision on behalf of a Trump administration doing McDonald’s bidding to stop the workers of the Fight for $15.”
In a series of tweets Thursday that highlighted the report, Henry added that “it’s simply not healthy [for] our country when corporations can use their massive power and influence to block working people from having any power and influence in their communities.”
“Americans who work hard to generate profit for [McDonalds] and other large corporations,” she wrote, “should get a seat at the table through #UnionsForAll to negotiate for a fair return on that hard work.”
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