9.13.18

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Some McDonald’s workers in St. Louis, KC vote to strike over sex harassment Walkout is set for Tuesday to bring attention to issue BY DAVID CRARY Associated Press

Emboldened by the #MeToo movement, McDonald’s workers have voted to stage a one-day strike next week at restaurants in 10 cities in hopes of pressuring management to take stronger steps against on-the-job sexual harassment. Organizers say it will be the first multistate strike in the U.S. specifically targeting sexual harassment. Plans for the walkout — to start at lunchtime on Tuesday — have been approved in recent days by “women’s committees” formed by employees at dozens of McDonald’s restaurants across the U.S. Lead organizers include several women who filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in May alleging pervasive harassment at some of McDonald’s franchise restaurants. The strike comes as unionbacked organizations have been putting pressure on McDonald’s on several fronts for better working conditions, including $15-an-hour wages — at a burger chain that employs tens of thousands of people around the country, many of them at low pay. Organizers said the strike would target multiple restaurants — but not every local McDonald’s — in each of the 10 cities: Chicago; Durham, N.C.; Kansas City; Los Angeles; Miami; Milwaukee; New Orleans; Orlando, Fla.; San Francisco and St. Louis. They said they could not predict with precision how many workers would join the strike, but noted that hundreds of workers had participated in the

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Tanya Harrell, shown Wednesday outside her home in Gretna, La., has filed an EEOC complaint alleging abuse at the McDonald’s where she works in Louisiana. She is one of the organizers of a worker strike.

committee meetings at which the strike was planned. McDonald’s, in an e-mail to The Associated Press, defended its anti-harassment efforts. “We have policies, procedures and training in place that are specifically designed to prevent sexual harassment at our company and company-owned restaurants, and we firmly believe that our franchisees share this commitment,” the company said. The company also disclosed a new initiative that will engage outside experts to work with the company to help “evolve” those policies and procedures. Some of the experts would come from an employment law training firm and an anti-sexual violence organization. Labor lawyer Mary Joyce Carlson, who has been collaborating with women who filed the EEOC complaints, says the company needs to back up such gestures with tougher enforcement. “We see no evidence there’s

been any change at all,” she said. “Whatever policy they have is not effective.” Organizers of the planned walkout say strikers will be demanding that the company improve procedures for receiving and responding to harassment complaints, and require antiharassment training for managers and employees. Another demand will be formation of a national committee to address sexual harassment, comprising workers, representatives from corporate and franchise stores, and leaders of national women’s groups. Carlson is an attorney for Fight for $15, a national movement seeking to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. She said McDonald’s has successfully resisted efforts to unionize its employees, and suggested that workers’ anger related to sexual harassment might fuel broader efforts to gain better working conditions. Among the strike organizers is Tanya Harrell, 22, who works in

New Orleans, who filed a complaint with the EEOC in May alleging that her two managers at a local McDonald’s teased her, but otherwise took no action after she told them of sustained verbal and physical harassment by a co-worker. Harrell, who makes $8.15 an hour, said she and many of her colleagues were skeptical of the company’s commitment to combating harassment. “They want people to think they care, but they don’t care,” she said. “They could do a way more better job.” Another organizer is Kim Lawson, 25, of Kansas City, who also filed an EEOC complaint alleging that managers responded ineffectively when she reported sexual harassment by a coworker. Lawson, who has a 4-year-old daughter, says she makes $9 an hour. She is heartened by strong support from other workers for the planned walkout. “Everybody’s been brave about it,” she said. “It’s time to stand up for what we believe in.” Thus far, the nearly yearold #MeToo movement has not triggered a strike targeting a specific U.S. company. Last March, on International Women’s Day, there were broadbased calls for women to stay away from work in several countries, notably in Western Europe. Annelise Orleck, a history professor at Dartmouth College who has written about lowwage workers, said she knows of only one precedent in the United States to the planned McDonald’s walkout. In 1912, she said, several hundred garment workers at a corset factory in Kalamazoo, Mich., walked off the job in a strike prompted by pervasive sexual harassment, as well as other poor working conditions. The strikers did not win all of their demands, but succeeded in winning public support and drawing attention to workplace abuses.

Macy’s, FedEx will hire 135,000 for holiday season REUTERS

Macy’s Inc. said on Wednesday it would hire 80,000 temporary workers to deal with extra customers shopping during the crucial holiday season. The department store chain said 23,500 of its seasonal positions will be based in fulfillment centers to support online orders, a 31 percent increase over 2017. Last year, the company had hired the same number of temporary workers, before adding 7,000 more in December. Seasonal hiring plans of retailers indicate their sales expectations for the holiday season, which starts a day after Thanksgiving and continues into early January, and accounts for nearly a third of their annual sales. Macy’s, like other department store operators, has been investing heavily in workforce and delivery services to lure shoppers and ward off stiff competition from online retailers such as Amazon.com. FedEx Corp. on Wednesday also announced it would expand its U.S. ground operations to six days per week to cater to the growing e-commerce demand and expected record volumes during the holiday season, the U.S. package delivery company said on Wednesday. The company said it will increase hours for some existing employees and hire about 55,000 workers for the holiday season. FedEx said the six-day ground-shipping operations would be extended throughout its U.S. network all-year round. “The rise in demand for ecommerce goes beyond peak. It’s a year-round phenomenon,” said Raj Subramaniam, the company’s chief marketing and communications officer.

Some U.S. businesses postponing investment due to trade concerns trade outlook. The Fed did not give specific examples. However, it said: “One utility firm noted that tariffs U.S. businesses have scaled on some construction mateback or postponed investrials may force them to scale ments in several parts of the back capital investment a country due to concerns bit.” about international trade President Donald Trump tension, the Federal Reserve has slapped tariffs on imports said on Wednesday. from a range of trading partThe U.S. central bank also ners, including China, the said in its Beige Book report that the effects of tariffs ap- Jerome Powell, Federal European Union, Canada and Mexico, prompting retaliapeared to be modest, though Reserve chairman tion against U.S. exports. they were boosting input Despite the trade tension, the Fed said prices, particularly among manufacturthe economy was expanding at a moderers. The report, a snapshot of the economy ate pace and a tight job market has led to gleaned from discussions with business labor shortages across the country and contacts in the Fed’s 12 districts, detailed in many occupations. Companies for business worries about the Trump ad- several years have reported shortages of ministration’s trade war with China and construction workers, truck drivers and simmering tension with other major engineers. But more recently, “a number of distrading partners. “Most districts noted concern and un- tricts also noted shortages of lower-skill certainty about trade tensions — particu- workers at restaurants, retailers, and larly though not only among manufac- other types of firms,” the Fed said. The Fed has raised interest rates twice turers,” according to the report. In several districts, the Fed said, busi- this year and is widely expected to lift nesses reported scaling back or postpon- them again at its Sept. 25-26 monetary ing investments due to worries about the policy meeting. BY JASON LANGE Reuters

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