McDonald's really knows how to celebrate liberty and justice. On the eve of the international recognition Human Rights Day, McDonald's announced it will launch a massive campaign to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act. So, let's respond in kind: boycott McDonald's.
As a reminder, the right to form a union is an internationally guaranteed right, inscribed in the UN charter via the International Labor Organization's declarations:
All workers and all employers have the right freely to form and join groups for the promotion and defence of their occupational interests. This basic human right goes together with freedom of expression. It is the basis of democratic representation and governance. Those concerned need to be able to exercise their right to influence matters that directly concern them. In other words, their voice needs to be heard and taken into account.
Workers and employers can set up, join and run their own organisations without interference from the State or one another. Of course, they have to respect the law of the land - but the law of the land, in turn, must respect the principles of freedom of association. These principles cannot be set aside for any sector of activities or group of workers.
The right freely to run their own activities means that workers' and employers' organisations can independently determine how they best wish to promote and defend their occupational interests. This covers both long-term strategies and action in specific circumstances, including recourse to strike and lock out. They can independently affiliate to international organisations and cooperate within them.
McDonald's now says it wants to spend millions of dollars to undercut that right. Here's the statement from John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO:
Working men and women should be deeply concerned about McDonald's USA's announcement that it will throw its super-sized weight into defeating legislation to restore workers' freedom to bargain with their employers and improve their jobs through unions. Working people know that the bargaining power they gain through unions for fair wages, better health care, pensions and job security is our nation's single best tool for creating an economy that works for all - - 60 million say they'd join a union tomorrow if given the chance. In launching a campaign to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act, McDonald's has taken direct aim at the customers and communities it serves and is shooting down their best chance at realizing their aspirations for their families and futures.
Corporations like McDonald's and their CEOs hold all the cards in today's economy and working families are left to struggle with the economy they leave behind. McDonald's CEO James Skinner took home over $12.3 million in total compensation last year. If he were paid by the hour, he would make nearly 600 times the less than $10/hour pay of many of McDonald's 600,000 employees.
McDonald's could not have picked a more telling moment to announce its decision to actively fight reform of our nation's broken labor laws. Tomorrow, human rights activists worldwide will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which declares that workers' freedom to form and join unions is a fundamental human right. Human Rights Watch warns that the U.S. labor law is so broken and its penalties so weak that U.S. workers have effectively lost their fundamental human right to freely associate and bargain in unions. McDonald's has now positioned itself squarely on the side of those opposing the protection of this basic human right.
McDonald's has the right to do this.
And we have the right to drain its coffers so that it doesn't have the resources to attack workers.
No working person should chomp on a Big Mac or another McDonald's product until the company stands down. You want cheap fast food? Fine--there are alternatives.
Full disclosure: this is easy for me to suggest because I haven't eaten one of those "burgers" in probably two decades. Just wanted to say that up front and apologize to those who are taking one for the greater good. And I'm sure many readers haven't eaten the stuff either.
But... a lot of people still do so spread the word.