At a mid-day Tuesday rally, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James will announce a four-part proposal to tackle alleged rampant wage theft in the fast food industry: Creation of an anonymous whistleblower hotline for workers to report wage theft; expansion of city agencies’ authority to investigate wage theft; convening of City Council hearings at which McDonald’s’ CEO and franchisees would be invited and then questioned by councilmembers; and urgings that the McDonald’s Corporation amend its franchisee agreements to create a mechanism to punish those that don’t follow the law.
James, who was elected in November, will unveil these proposals at a demonstration outside a midtown Manhattan McDonald’s store, public advocate’s office spokesperson Brendan Brosh told Salon. That action is one of dozens planned around the country today to highlight fast food workers’ allegations of wage theft. As Salon has reported, McDonald’s workers last week announced the filing of potential class action lawsuits in three states, opening a new front in a union-backed effort anchored by an unprecedented wave of strikes. Those suits could draw unwelcome attention, and force unwanted disclosures, regarding the nature of fast food corporations’ relationship to the individual franchisees which are legally listed as McDonald’s workers’ employers. McDonalds Corporation, plaintiffs’ Barbara Chisholm argued to reporters last week, “strictly control[s] both staffing and scheduling at the restaurants…”
McDonald’s Corp. did not immediately respond to a Monday evening inquiry, or to a request for comment last week on the lawsuits. In a statement to MSNBC last week, an official said, “McDonald’s and our independent owner-operators share a concern and commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald’s restaurants.”