McDonald’s Faces Worker Resistance

Jan 10, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Jim Cantalupo, McDonald’s new chairman of the board and ceo, has a lot on his
plate with the chain facing problems with its business from the US to Japan.
The dimensions of the issues Mr. Cantalupo has to address may be even larger
than he realizes based on a William MacDougall column on the Counterpunch
web site.

Mr. MacDougall introduces an anti-McDonald’s movement established and carried
on by McDonald’s own employees. The McDonald’s Worker Resistance describes itself
as “a loose network of McDonald’s employees” with members from around the globe.
[Editor’s note: language content of their website may be offensive to some.]
( )

According to the group’s McSues newsletter, “Working for McDonald’s
is dehumanising, there is a ‘procedure’ for every tiny action to make our role
almost completely robotic. The pay is infamously poor, management is frequently
very autocratic. We are bombarded with company propaganda and expected to comply
with company stipulated ‘appearance requirements’. Theft of wages (clock card
entries being altered by managers to save on labour expenses) is rife. Even
when your shift finishes, incredibly, you are not free to go and are obliged
to stay on should management demand it, which they almost inevitably will. You
can’t even go to the toilet with out first obtaining permission. If a shift
is unexpectedly quiet and staff are not totally rushed then some staff will
be told to go home, if they insist on working their full shift they will often
be assigned the most unpleasant cleaning tasks to encourage them to rethink.
At other times every day off will be disrupted by a phone call from a stressed,
sometimes even tearful, manager begging you to come in and work. The obsessive
cost cutting and incessant prioritisation of profit has enormous human costs.”

Moderator’s Comment: Three Related Questions:

  1. Is the McDonald’s Resistance Movement indicative
    of how other store-level employees in other businesses feel?

  2. Do retailers and fast food operators need to change
    their approach with store associates?

  3. Can you cite examples of operators that are on the
    right track?

You could replace McDonald’s with another fast food chain
or retailer name in the McSues’ description and in all likelihood it would be
just as applicable.

We always hear from headquarters executives that the store
staff is the most important resource they have in their business. Store associates
are on the frontlines after all. Why then do associates in so many stores feel
as if are treated unfairly? [George
Anderson – Moderator

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