McDonald’s Must Pay

4 Jun

KahInn Lee: Why Big Business Wants More Guestworkers in the USA

KahInn Lee is a former McDonald’s guestworker in the United States on the front lines of immigration reform.

A McDonald’s franchisee used KahInn and other guestworkers as a sub-minimum wage, exploitable workforce—but the workers stood up to expose the abuse and stop it.

Corporations like McDonald’s want to hugely expand guestworker programs through immigration reform, while leaving out basic protections for guestworkers and the tens of millions of U.S. workers alongside them in the same industries.

Protests in 30+ Countries to Target McDonald’s Labor Abuse

On June 6, student guestworker fight from U.S. becomes global campaign against labor abuse, for freedom of association


June 6, 2013

Via E-mail and Hand Delivery to Store Mangers

Don Thompson

President and CEO, McDonald’s

2111 McDonald’s Dr.

Oak Brook, IL 60523


Mr. Thompson:

We are unions, labor federations, youth, and human rights organization from countries where McDonald’s agents recruit low-wage temporary workers to come to work in McDonald’s franchises in the United States. On March 6, temporary international workers on J-1 visas from around the world went on strike to expose severe exploitation and retaliation at McDonald’s restaurants in the United States. They joined U.S. workers and union leaders in demanding that the fast food giant take responsibility for labor abuse at its restaurants—and their fight reached the pages of Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and NBC News.

These international subcontracted workers from Asia and Latina America reported that they paid $3,000 to $4,000 apiece to participate in the U.S. State Department’s J-1 student guestworker program, expecting decent work and a cultural exchange. Instead, McDonald’s used them as a sub-minimum wage captive workforce. Workers faced:

  • Threats of deportation by McDonald’s franchise management
  • As few as four hours of work a week at $7.25 an hour, with exorbitant housing deductions that brought their net pay far below minimum wage
  • Shifts as long as 25 hours with no overtime pay
  • Being packed into employer-owned basement housing, up to eight students to a room, for $300 each per month
  • Retaliation by the McDonald’s franchisee and labor supplier Geovisions, including surprise home visits and cuts to work hours

Despite threats of deportation by the franchise management, these young workers bravely joined the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA), went on strike and launched a campaign to demand dignity and the freedom to organize for themselves, and for all McDonald’s workers.

As workers, trade unions, students, fathers, mothers, human rights organizations and community members from countries around the world where McDonald’s agents recruit international labor we are demanding an end to the abuse.

We demand that McDonald’s:

1. Agree to end exploitation and retaliation of the international guestworkers recruited to work in all U.S. stores; and

2. Guarantee freedom of association and the right to organize without retaliation for all of McDonald’s workers worldwide.


UNION/Organization – Representive – Country

  • All of Us or None – United States
  • American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO) – United States
  • Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) – Philippines
  • Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.” (CSMM)
  • Confédération Chrétienne des Syndicats Malgaches (SEKRIMA) – Madagascar
  • Confédération Française des Travailleurs Chrétiens (French Democratic Confederation of Labor) (CFDT) – Gilles Desbordes – France
  • CNS “Cartel ALFA” – Romania
  • Derechos Humanos CUT – Chile
  • Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFIT) – Bassem Halaka – Egypt
  • Health Services Workers Union of Ghana (HSWU) of TUC – Franklin Ansah – Ghana
  • Independent Trade union of Miners of Ukraine – Deputy Head Anatolyi Akimochkin – Ukraine
  • International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) – Jeroen Beirnaert – Brazil
  • International Union of Food workers (IUF) – General Secretary Ron Oswald – Switzerland
  • International Union of Food workers (IUF) – Vijay Hiremath – India
  • International Union of Food workers – 식품 농업 호텔 요식 캐터링서비스 관광 연초 및 유사산업 국제노동조합연 (Hotel Food and Agriculture Hospitality and Catering services) (IUF Korea) – South Korea
  • IUF Thailand: Cuisine and Service Workers Union and the Cook and Servers Workers Union of Thailand – Thailand
  • IUF Poultry Workers’ Rights Network – Thailand
  • Federation of Hotel, Restaurant, Plaza, Apartment, Catering and Tourism Workers’ Free Union (FSPM)/IUF – Indonesia
  • Federación Nacional de Trabajadores en Industrias de la Alimentación, Hoteles, Bebidas, Tabaco y Afines (FENTIAHBETA) – Dominican Republic
  • Federação dos Sindicatos da Agricultura, Alimentação, Bebidas, Hotelaria e Turismo de Portugal (FESAHT) –
  • Pakistan Hotel, Restaurant, Clubs, Tourism, Catering and Allied Workers (PHRCTCAWF)/IUF – Pakistan
  • International Union of Food workers Hong Kong Catering & Hotels Industries Employees General Union (CHIEGU)/IUF
  • Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) – Canada
  • Jobs with Justice/American Rights at Work (United States)
  • Kommunistinen Nuorisoliitto KomNL (The Finnish Communist Youth Alliance) – Simo Suominen – Finland
  • La Confédération générale des travailleurs de Mauritanie (CGTM) General Confederation of Mauritanian Workers – Mauritania
  • La Confederación Paraguaya de Trabajadores C.P.T – Presidente FRANCISCO BRITEZ RUIZ – Paraguay
  • La Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique (FGTB HORVAL) (General Federation of Labor) – Belgium
  • La Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD) – Ecuador
  • Le Bureau National de l’Association Malienne des Expulsés ( AME) – President Ousmane Diarra – Mali
  • Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) / Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union – Ireland
  • New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) – General Secretary Ashim Roy – India
  • National Union of Workers in Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Industries (NUWHRAIN) – Philippines
  • National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON) – United States
  • National Guestworker Alliance – Argentina – Malaysia – Mongolia – Romania – Poland – Turkey
  • Proyetco de Derechos Economicos Sociales y Culturales (Project for Economic Social and Cultural Rights) (ProDESC) – Alejandra Ancheita – Mexico
  • Restaurant Opportunities Center – United States
  • Solidaridad de Trabajadores Cubanos STC –
  • SEEB – SP – Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT) (Unified Workers’ Central) -Rita Berlofa – Brazil
  • Sindicato dos Trabalhadores em Gastronomia e Hospedagem de São Paulo e Região (SINTHORESP) (Trade Union of Workers in Lodging and Dining in Presidente Prudente and Region) – Brazil
  • Socialist union of Youth / SZM Slovakia – Chairman Miroslav Pomajdík – Slovakia
  • Society for Labor and Development (SLD) – India
  • UITA (SIREL), Uruguay (International Union of Food workers) – Patricia Iglesias Aguirre – Uruguay
  • Unite the Union – Jennie Formby – Great Britain
  • Unite Union – Mike Treen – New Zealand
  • United Worker Congress – United States
  • Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft (Ver.di) (United Services Union) – Jeffrey Raffo – Germany
  • Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago – United States
  • Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) – Zimbabwe
  • Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA) – Zimbabwe

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