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McDonald’s Cuts Dozens of Jobs at Headquarters

McDonald’s Cuts Dozens of Jobs at Headquarters



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A second round of job cuts is also on the way, a spokesperson for McDonald’s has announced

The corporate lay-offs are part of a multi-million dollar effort to redirect efforts “toward business priorities.”

McDonald’s will lay off 63 of its corporate employees, the majority of whom work for headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., spokeswoman Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem has confirmed to Crain’s Chicago.

The layoffs, which go into effect on February 16, are part of a $100 million effort to cut costs and will impact several departments.

Furthermore, Shekhem told Crain’s that McDonald’s is planning a second round of job cuts that will affect US workers, though she did not provide details on the timing of the next job cuts, or the number of employees who would be let go.

“McDonald's is moving with a sense of urgency to improve our financial performance by taking actions based on the long term,” the company announced in a statement. “This includes a diligent review of our corporate home office and McDonald's USA's structures and resources in order to redirect nearly $100 million in savings toward business priorities.”


McDonald's CEO insists fast-food giant pays ⟺ir wages' as protesters rally

McDonald's offers “real careers” and “competitive wages”, CEO Don Thompson told shareholders on Thursday, as hundreds of protesters chanted for better pay outside the fast-food giant’s annual meeting.

As demonstrators staged a second day of protests against the company’s wage scale outside the company’s suburban Chicago headquarters, Thompson told shareholders: "We believe we pay fair and competitive wages.”

“I know we have people outside,” said Thompson. “I think that McDonald’s provides more opportunity than any other company … We continue to believe that we pay fair and competitive wages,” he said.

Thompson said the company offered opportunities to young people, and the training for them to build careers. “McDonald’s has done that throughout time, and will continue to do that,” he said.

Outside the meeting, from which journalists were barred, protesters called on the company to raise its wages to a minimum of $15 an hour. On Wednesday, 139 people, including 101 fast-food employees, were arrested after staging a protest outside the company’s headquarters.

McDonald’s closed the largest office on its campus beforeo the protest, sending 2,000 employees home for the day, citing traffic concerns.

Outside the meeting, protesters chanted: “We work, we sweat, put $15 on my check." Workers from Detroit chanted: “Hey hey, ho ho, $7.40 has got to go,” referring to their minimum wage salaries in Michigan.

The protests were the latest in a series by fast-food and retail workers in the US, who have been campaigning for a raise in the minimum wage and the right to join unions without recrimination. Earlier this month, fast-food workers in dozens of cities walked off their jobs in a day of protest over wages.

Thompson comfortably survived a vote questioning his $9.5m pay package for 2013. The “say on pay” protest vote was organised by Change to Win Investment Group (Ctw), which recently won a similar vote at Chipotle, which is now reviewing executive compensation.

Thompson was also quizzed about the company’s marketing to tactics to children. In the meeting Casey Hinds, a mother from Lexington, Kentucky, said Ronald McDonald was "the Joe Camel of fast food." The company was also accused of being “predatory” in its marketing to children.

“We are not predatory. It’s the truth,” said Thompson. He said the company’s marketing was “not intended to be anything other than fun for kids.”

“We are people. We do have values at McDonald's. We are parents," said Thompson. He said the company offered healthy choices and had sold over 1.1bn apple slices. “My parents eat McDonald’s and they are here today – they are quite healthy,” he said.


Over 100 arrested near McDonald's headquarters in protest over low pay

Over 2,000 people calling for a hike in the minimum wage and the right to form a union without retaliation descended on the fast food giant’s suburban Chicago headquarters in what is believed to be the largest demonstration McDonald’s has ever faced.

Chanting, “Hey McDonald’s You Can’t Hide, We Can See Your Greedy Side,” and “No Big Macs, No Fries, Make our Wage Supersize,” protesters blocked the entrance to McDonald’s campus in Oakbrook, some 20 miles outside Chicago.

A short walk from Hamburger University, McDonald’s training center, the protesters were confronted by a phalanx of police officers in riot gear. After they sat down the police issued two orders to disperse and arrests began.

Police said 101 McDonald's workers and 38 community supporters were arrested. McDonald’s workers, church leaders and Service Employees International Union president Mary Kay Henry were among those arrested.

Some 500 fast-food workers from three dozen cities as well as local church groups, union activists and community groups were present at the demonstration. It came a day before the fast food company’s annual meeting when dissident shareholders intend to vote against CEO Donald Thompson’s $9.5m pay package. Protesters also plan to picket that meeting, from which media have been excluded.

Activists said the company feared a "public relations minefield" and had sent workers home in order to derail the protest. Protesters moved their demonstration to another nearby McDonald’s corporate facility.

A McDonald's spokeswoman said the company had taken the decision to close the a building on its campus that holds 2,000 staff after consultation with police. The building was close to a busy intersection and the company was concerned about the disruption the protesters could cause to traffic. She said staff continued to work from home.

Restaurant and retail workers are calling for a minimum wage of $15 per hour. The latest protest is one of a series aimed at fueling a national debate on income inequality and comes after a report from the Demos thinktank showed that fast-food companies had the largest gap between the pay of CEOs and workers of any industry. The report found that the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio for the fast-food industry was more than 1,000-to-one in 2013.

Amanda Wenninghoff, 28, has been working for McDonald’s in Kansas City for 10 years and travelled to Chicago to call for a wage rise. She earns $8 an hour and said she hadn’t had a wage raise since 2003.

“I have lived in my car with my kids because I haven’t had the wages to support a place for us to live,” she told the Guardian. “I have friends who need life-saving surgery they can’t afford.”

She said McDonald’s offered health insurance, but it would cost $400 a month for her alone –about half her monthly salary. “It would be impossible for me to get by without government assistance,” she said. “The least they can do is pay us enough money so we can afford to live instead of putting it on the taxpayers.”

McDonald’s worker Ashona Osborne, 24, travelled from Pittsburgh to protest. She makes $7.25 an hour and said her wages had been cut since she had started to protest.

“I need better support for me and my family,” she said. “It’s not just McDonald’s, I have been working on minimum wage since I was 16 and it’s very, very difficult. I have decide which priority to take care of, which bill can I pay.”

She said Thompson $9.5m pay package worked out at about $6,600 an hour. “He makes more money than me on the way to work,” she said. “That’s ridiculous. They can afford to give me more money. If it weren’t for us workers there would be no McDonald’s, no Burger King, no Wendy’s.”

On Thursday, shareholder activist Change to Win Investment Group (Ctw) is organising a vote against Thompson, who took over as CEO in 2012. It follows similar protests against CEO pay at other restaurant groups including Domino’s and Chipotle.

Earlier this month, 77% of Chipotle shareholders voted against the compensation packages of co-CEOs Steve Ells and Monty Moran, worth $25.1m and $24.4m respectively in 2013. The vote, which is non-binding and was also organised by CtW, has prompted a review of compensation at the company.

The pressure for change comes as President Obama has pushed Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from the current $7.25. The move is being challenged by Republicans and by lobbyists for the restaurant industry who claim it will cost jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates that there are 3.5m fast-food and counter workers in the US, and they earn a median hourly wage of $8.83 – almost $18,400 per year based on a 40-hour work week without vacation.

Earlier this year the Congressional Budget Office said a hike in the minimum wage to $10.10 would cost 500,000 jobs by 2016 but boost earnings for about 16.5 million low-wage workers. The National Restaurant Association said the report was proof that a wage hike was detrimental for the economy.

“The restaurant industry provides real pathways to the middle class and beyond, and dramatic increases in the minimum wage will only hinder our ability to provide stepping stones for those who need it most,” the association said in a statement.


McDonald's will keep dozens of items off the menu for the foreseeable future

McDonald's is planning to keep salads, bagels and yogurt parfaits off its menus for the foreseeable future after the coronavirus pandemic led the company to shrink its offerings.

The fast-food chain told U.S. franchisees that it plans to add back seven items throughout July, but dozens more will remain off of the menu. Returning items include vanilla cones, chocolate chip cookies, two variations of the Quarter Pounder and the Bacon McDouble. Some of the removed items, like salads, could return down the road.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the chain's Wednesday webcast with U.S. franchisees about the menu.

"Now, we're reintroducing some of our iconic offerings while keeping our menu streamlined – focusing on expert preparation, great service, and as always, quality ingredients," McDonald's USA said in a statement. "With customers at the center of everything we do, we'll continue listening to them and evolving our menu to meet their needs."

McDonald's transitioned to a slimmed-down menu in April to fill drive-thru orders quickly and provide better service, even if its kitchens were short staffed. It cut items that were more complex or didn't sell as well and limited breakfast to only morning hours. About a year ago, the chain had phased out some items, like its line of premium burgers, in a bid to speed up its service times.

As the company reopens dining rooms, it's looking to offer customers more variety. McDonald's analyzed more than a hundred items across its menu to decide what changes to make. About 7% of its U.S. restaurants have resumed indoor dining operations, as of Monday.

Franchisees have pushed for a shorter menu. The National Owners Association, an independent advocacy group for McDonald's U.S. franchisees, said in early June that keeping menus simplified was its top priority. The Journal reported that the group, which represents about 80% of franchisees, voted last week to drop all-day breakfast permanently.

"The reality is we still have more work to do to further analyze what makes sense," McDonald's U.S. CMO Morgan Flatley told franchisees on the webcast, referring to all-day breakfast. "Any final decision will drive business while minimizing operation disruptions."

On Tuesday, McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski told investors at the virtual Evercore ISI conference that the company will add items back but it is "unlikely" that McDonald's will return to its pre-Covid-19 menu.

The changes to McDonald's menu will also include its new crispy chicken sandwich, which it tested in December and January, and new baked goods for breakfast.


Behind the scenes at America's Test Kitchen

A whole year before publication, America's Test Kitchen was fine-tuning a contender for its newest cookbook at its headquarters in Boston: a recipe for roasted carrots and shallots. On Day One of testing, deputy food editor Stephanie Pixley was all about experimentation. She asked, "Is it salty enough? Not too salty?"

"There's a sweetness with A that's like a natural, carrot-y sweetness with B, tastes a bit more flat," noted one test chef.

America's Test Kitchen's test cooks rate a recipe for roasted carrots and shallots. CBS News

On Day Two, the test chefs made adjustments and tried again. "So going forward, I'm going to try roasting the carrots less," Pixley determined.

Their conclusion: medium-sized carrots, any kind, cooked in butter at 450 degrees.

End of story? Not in this busy place. On any given day, a television show is likely being shot, and a dozen or more recipes are being developed in the test kitchen. Food stylists tidy up plates for photographers, the pictures for a future cookbook, magazine, or one of America's Test Kitchen's websites.

Handling the food? Hand model Dan Cellucci, who does take special care of his hands. "Yeah, I mean, I'll get a phone call once in a while, 'Do you mind just getting a manicure?'"

Dan Cellucci is the supporting talent of a food photo shoot. CBS News

Does that cake look good enough to eat? What's left is headed for the take-home fridge, an irresistible perk for ATK's growing staff, who now number almost 200.

In 2017 the expanding edible empire moved to a 55,000-square-foot space along Boston's waterfront. It's where they produce two television shows, two magazines, about 15 books a year, and their websites. Chief creative officer Jack Bishop, like a lot of ATK's experts, is a regular on the TV shows, dispensing the often-surprising results of ATK research.

Such as? "Searing meat does not seal in juices. You do not need to sift flour. You should be steaming your eggs rather than boiling them."

Bishop co-founded the company in 1993. "The mission really has been the same for 25 years, which is to empower home cooks to succeed in their own kitchens," he said.

It was, and is, the opposite of slick. The first host of ATK's TV shows wasn't some flashy celebrity chef it was nerdy New Englander Christopher Kimball, who noted, "We spend most of our time eating bad food."

This was not an obvious blueprint for the huge success America's Test Kitchen has had, especially since the company didn't then &ndash and doesn't now &ndash accept any advertising.

"In addition to the recipes, the review content's a very important part of the mission of America's Test Kitchen," said Bishop. "And that's difficult to do if you are also accepting advertisements from the same companies that you're then reviewing."

Lisa McManus gets paid to abuse stuff, in this case skillets, in order to figure out which ones are tough enough to take it. "Wow, okay. Bad. Warped."

Just think of the job satisfaction! "You know, we always try to find out why did the winners win and the losers lose," she said. "We don't just say, 'Go take our word for it.' We want to prove why."

Lisa McManus does things to cookware you should never have to. CBS News

As executive tasting and testing editor (how's that for a title?), her rigor is part of the reason people trust ATK product recommendations. Trust is the reason ATK's cooking shows reach more than four million viewers.

"Our whole business is cooking things the wrong way so that we can eventually find the right way," said Bridget Lancaster. She and Julia Collin Davison are two longtime test chefs and now hosts of the TV shows. They come across like skilled stand-ins for their viewers, who truly eat up their advice.

Which brings us back to that carrot and shallot recipe. Bishop said, "We send it out to be road-tested by volunteer home cooks. And if we don't get 80% of the people to say, 'Yes, I want to make that recipe again,' it goes back to our test kitchen and gets reworked."

Stephanie Patterson, of Wooster, Ohio, is one of 17,000 volunteer home cooks who signed up on the website to test recipes. She's done do for nine years. "About 90 percent of my kitchen equipment is based upon their recommendations," Patterson told correspondent Martha Teichner.

Volunteer test cook Stephanie Patterson took the America's Test Kitchen's roast carrots and shallots recipe for a trial run. She gave it high marks. CBS News

Currently, Patterson has four recipes in her email in-box to be road-tested.

Carol Chriss, of Holmdel, New Jersey, is another volunteer. "It's almost like there's too many recipes and too little time!" she laughed.

To say they're groupies is an understatement. Patterson has joined their Facebook group and follows them on Instagram. "It's definitely a club," she said.

For Patterson, who has muscular dystrophy, it's actually more than that it's a world. "I feel like I'm helping them make the recipe as good as it can be before they print it."

"And it makes you part of their family?" Teichner asked.

So, did they like the carrots and shallots recipe? The recipe made the cut. It's on page 86 of America's Test Kitchen's just-released "Vegetables Illustrated" cookbook.


McDonald’s workers are striking and suing the company — in the same week

McDonald’s workers are making a lot of noise this week as the company prepares for its annual meeting Thursday with investors.

Dozens of women just filed gender discrimination complaints against the company, and cashiers and cooks are planning a nationwide strike Thursday to demand union rights and $15 hourly pay.

A group of 25 women in 20 cities said Tuesday that they had just filed sexual harassment complaints against McDonald’s with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Most are new cases that must first go through an EEOC investigation, but a handful involve complaints women filed with the agency last year, which they are now taking to court. They say the company has done nothing to keep women safe while working at its franchise and corporate-owned restaurants.

“Sexual harassment is not something you should have to endure no matter how desperately you need a job,” Maribel Hoyos, who recently quit her job at a McDonald’s restaurant in Tucson, Arizona, told reporters Tuesday. Hoyos said she and her teenage daughter, who both worked at the same restaurant, were punished for complaining about a manager who repeatedly groped them and made unwanted sexual advances. “I was passed over for a promotion, my work hours were cut and I was cut out of managers’ training program. Then we fell behind on our rent.”

Hoyos and her daughter are just two of the women launching cases against McDonald’s, with support from the Fight for $15 labor movement, the ACLU, and the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. As part of the group’s demands, they want McDonald’s franchises to face serious consequences if managers violate the company’s sexual harassment policies.

McDonald’s employees around the country are also planning to strike in 13 cities on Thursday, but for another reason. They want a $15 minimum wage and union rights for all restaurant employees at the chain. Democratic presidential candidates Julián Castro, Corey Booker, and Jay Inslee are planning to picket with them in three different cities.

Corporate lawyers have argued that the company is not responsible (or liable) for working conditions at the 14,000-plus, independently owned McDonald’s franchises across the country. Whether or not they share responsibility has yet to be resolved in the courts.

As of publication time, a spokesperson for McDonald’s hadn’t responded to questions from Vox about workers’ concerns.

The employee pressure campaign comes at a time of widespread labor unrest across the US. In recent years, McDonald’s workers have watched dozens of companies lift hourly pay to $15 an hour and swiftly punish sexual offenders in response to public outrage. But not much has changed at individual franchises and corporate-owned restaurants, they say, even though they’ve been protesting and striking for more than five years. They want to remind company executives that workers won’t back off until things change.

Women want McDonald’s to take sexual harassment seriously

Long before the #MeToo movement became a force to contend with, women who work at McDonald’s have been complaining about rampant sexual harassment at the fast-food chain.

Women say they are fed up with supervisors who grope them, ask for sex, and expose themselves on the job. When they report the behavior, managers ignore them, they say, or even punish them. In 2015, women who work at McDonald’s went on strike in Chicago to express their frustration. In September, they went on strike again, this time in 10 cities.

Female McDonald’s employees have filed more than 50 sexual harassment lawsuits and EEOC complaints in the past three years, according to the Fight for $15 labor movement, which was launched by the Service Employees International Union back in 2012. Some of the cases are still under investigation by the EEOC, which is part of the process before workers can sue. The company is currently trying to settle some of the lawsuits that have made it to court. Meanwhile, not much has changed for women who work at the iconic fast-food chain.

“For three years, we’ve been speaking out, filing charges, and even going on strike to get McDonald’s to confront its sexual harassment problem,” Tanya Harrell, a McDonald’s worker from Louisiana, said in a statement. “We cannot wait any longer for action. McDonald’s, it’s time to sit down with the workers who help make your $6 billion in profits possible so, together, we can stamp out harassment once and for all.”

In the latest round of complaints, workers as young as 16 are accusing supervisors of serious misconduct, including attempted rape, indecent exposure, groping, and sexual offers. The women said they were ignored, mocked, or punished when they reported it. Some had their hours cut back and others were fired.

Before the strike in September, a spokesperson for McDonald’s told the AP that the company had several policies and training programs in place to help franchises prevent harassment, and that they’ve hired experts to help “evolve” those procedures.

On Monday, in response to recent complaints, McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said that the company began offering sexual harassment prevention training to franchise owners and general managers in the fall, and about 90 percent of them have gone through it, according to the Chicago Tribune. He also said the company is launching an anonymous hotline to report complaints this summer and will start offering the harassment training to non-managers in August.

The company, based in Chicago, has been slow to get involved because it doesn’t consider franchise workers company employees.

McDonald’s is locked in a labor dispute over whether the fast-food chain is considered a “joint employer,” and is therefore partly liable for labor violations committed by individual franchises. The company argues that it is not a joint employer, so it cannot be held legally accountable for sexual harassment and other illegal workplace behavior at any of its independently owned restaurants. Workers disagree. They say the company has too much control over franchise restaurants and workers to make that claim.

That’s also why McDonald’s won’t get involved in setting hourly pay rates for restaurant workers, and won’t bargain with them through a labor union, which is the reason workers are planning to strike Thursday.

McDonald’s workers want a voice in corporate decision-making

McDonald’s employees have been instrumental in pushing states (and Congress) to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

As part of the Fight for $15 movement that launched in 2012, fast-food workers have organized strikes and rallies all across the country. They saw little success until 2016, when California became the first state to hike hourly wages to $15, followed by Massachusetts, New York, Washington, DC, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. Last week, Connecticut became the seventh state to pass a bill raising minimum pay to $15 an hour.

More than 30 percent of US workers now live in states that are raising pay to $15 an hour, according to the National Employment Law Project. But McDonald’s workers have had more success changing state laws than getting the company to take action.

The most McDonald’s has done is announce, in March, that the company will no longer lobby against minimum wage hikes at the state and federal level.

McDonald’s workers also want the right to unionize and bargain collectively with the company. But that would require McDonald’s (or the courts) to view the company as a joint employer.

On Thursday, workers are planning to strike for union rights in 13 cities, the same day that company executives will meet with shareholders. Workers have enlisted the support of presidential candidates in addition to those joining the picket line, Sen. Bernie Sanders will host a video town hall with McDonald’s employees in Dallas, where the shareholders’ meeting will take place.

McDonald’s workers are thus sending a message not only to company executives, but to presidential contenders. They expect Democrats with an eye on the White House to work hard for their vote.

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Diaper masks, close quarters: Fast-food restaurants have struggled to protect workers from COVID-19

In the crowded kitchen of a McDonald’s outlet on a working-class commercial stretch of Oakland, it was as though the coronavirus didn’t exist.

Social distancing wasn’t enforced in the early weeks of the pandemic, workers at the Telegraph Avenue store claimed: As they boxed Big Macs, scooped French fries and bagged orders, they often stood shoulder to shoulder.

2:55 PM, Jan. 21, 2021 This article stated that “Aguántante” is a Spanish word for “put up with it.” The correct spelling is “Aguántate.”

There weren’t enough masks, so managers told workers to improvise, offering up a box of dog diapers somebody had left at the store. Often, the outlet was so busy that workers said they had no time to wash their hands, let alone disinfect the countertops.

The outlet’s coronavirus information poster was of little help: It was printed in English, and most of the roughly 40 workers spoke Spanish.

When the coronavirus surged through the store in May, employees — even those with symptoms — said they were pressured to keep working, according to formal complaints filed with the local health department and the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

Cashier Yamile Osoy, 26, developed such severe COVID-19 symptoms that she told her shift manager that she felt sick and wanted to go home. According to her complaint, he ordered her to lower her mask so she could breathe easier — and finish her shift.

By summer, the coronavirus had flared at nine other McDonald’s outlets within 15 miles of the Telegraph Avenue store, with more than 70 workers and their families testing positive or exhibiting symptoms, the formal complaints show. Many of those employees worked at more than one outlet, potentially spreading the infection.

It’s a pattern that has repeated itself across the country as fast-food restaurants have struggled to maintain the health and safety of front-line workers who face conditions that frequently put themselves and their families at risk of contracting COVID-19.

A lack of protective equipment and social distancing and pressure to work at all costs have persisted deep into the pandemic, according to a review of summaries of 1,600 complaints to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration concerning the coronavirus in the nation’s fast-food industry, along with 200 additional accounts found in health department records, lawsuits and news reports.

The documents offer an equally troubling record of regulators who have been slow to intervene.

So far, only three fast-food outlets in the U.S. have been cited for an OSHA violation in connection with a coronavirus-related complaint: a pie shop in Washington state, an Arby’s in Oregon and a waffle house in Minnesota. OSHA has levied only one fine, against the pie shop for $2,700, records show.

On-site investigations have been rare. In response to those 1,600 COVID complaints over the course of the pandemic, inspectors have visited only 56 fast-food outlets, according to OSHA records.

Nearly 600 cases remain open. But authorities closed about 1,000 cases without an inspection, the OSHA records show. Instead of visiting stores and interviewing workers, inspectors sent letters to owners. Some OSHA inspectors invited store managers to investigate complaints themselves and report back, the records show.

“OSHA investigates every complaint, whether it is received as a formal or informal complaint, or whistleblower complaint,” a Department of Labor spokesman wrote in an email. He did not comment on the low number of citations.

Local health officials, who have authority to enforce COVID-19 safety measures, have often failed to pick up the slack. A county health inspector responsible for the Telegraph Avenue McDonald’s was assigned to monitor health and safety compliance at “nearly 300 other facilities,” including several with COVID outbreaks, she wrote in an email to the outlet’s owner. And when she finally made an inspection, she went to the kitchen and began checking the temperature of the meat — a routine food-safety procedure.

The inspector did not talk to workers, said attorney B.J. Chisholm, who represents employees in a lawsuit against the outlet’s owner. In the July report, the inspector wrote: “All covid requirements are in place.”

The report came after a judge ordered the owner to upgrade safety measures in order to reopen.

Spokeswoman Neetu Balram wrote that the Alameda County health department “does its best to distribute work evenly among all staff, which has increased due to impacts of the pandemic.”

Michael Smith, who operates the Telegraph Avenue store, did not respond to specific accusations. In a written statement, Smith said that he had gone to great lengths to keep his workers safe during the pandemic, spending thousands of dollars to purchase protective gear and imposing “rigorous” safety procedures. “Our people are the heart and soul of my organization,” he wrote.

Citing complaints by workers, a bill was introduced Thursday in the California State Assembly that aims to improve safety standards for fast-food employees amid COVID-19.

“A disempowered work force faces a crisis in an industry with a poor history of compliance with workplace health and safety regulations,” the legislation reads.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San-Diego), who introduced the legislation, said she hopes the measure will boost the state’s enforcement of health and workplace protection laws and give workers a voice over workplace safety issues.

In March, Chipotle outlets in New York City were roiled by four worker strikes over coronavirus concerns. In June, 10 employees of a Chick-fil-A near Kansas City fell ill with COVID-19. In July, an employee of a Santa Monica Burger King died after working for a week while sick with a cough and other COVID-19 symptoms, according to a complaint, sparking a walkout.

It’s unclear whether McDonald’s has had more outbreaks at its locations or done a poorer job than other fast-food businesses at protecting its workers. However, McDonald’s USA has accumulated far more complaints than any other chain — more than 150 compared with Subway, the next on the list, with 40 — in keeping with its dominant share of the industry.

The nation’s largest fast-food restaurant chain, with 14,000 stores, is a staple for millions of families for a quick meal and is emblematic of the challenges the industry faces.

It has claimed it’s an industry leader when it comes to COVID-19 precautions, imposing more than 50 enhanced safety procedures to guard against the virus in its restaurants and engaging the Mayo Clinic for advice on how to “further enhance hygiene and cleanliness practices in support of customer and crew safety.”

Complaints filed by McDonald’s employees in 37 states, however, portray some of the chain’s outlets, both franchises and corporate-owned, as COVID-19 incubators: at their worst, crowded workplaces with inadequate protective gear and safety procedures.

Even when cases of COVID-19 appeared among staff, outlets remained open for business, according to the complaints, which were filed with state and federal regulators from March through Dec. 13.

Restaurant cleaning was haphazard after cases were detected, and masks and gloves were in short supply, according to complaints. Sick pay and quarantine pay were not available in some stores, and given grudgingly in others, workers claimed.

As staffing levels fell in stores where COVID-19 had taken hold, employees filed complaints saying they were pressured to work double shifts or cover shifts at other outlets experiencing outbreaks.

In U.S. cities, McDonald’s employees typically earn about $15 an hour, according to the Service Employees International Union, which is seeking to unionize the fast-food industry. Many of those who filed complaints said they felt compelled to work even when sick, or risk having their hours cut or losing their jobs entirely.

Wrote Walter Cortez, a worker at another McDonald’s in the Bay Area: “The managers say, ‘Aguántante’” — put up with it — “because there is no one to cover your shift.”

McDonald’s executives maintain that the vast majority of its outlets are clean and safe.

Bill Garrett, who heads the company’s coronavirus task force, said he knew of only “a few isolated instances” in which the virus had been an issue at McDonald’s franchises.

“What I can tell you is we’re watching things very, very closely and we’re not seeing any type of large or widespread problem that we would react to,” he said.

Altogether, more than 230 McDonald’s outlets from Maine to Hawaii have been the subject of state or federal coronavirus complaints and health department reports. The virus has flared in about 140 of these outlets, and at least 500 workers and family members have fallen ill with COVID-19, according to the complaints and health reports. Dozens of franchise owners have self-reported additional cases among their employees.

That’s a tiny percentage of U.S. McDonald’s outlets. But the number of COVID-19 cases at McDonald’s is probably far higher than available information shows. Only three state health departments — Colorado, New Mexico and Oregon — publish data identifying businesses where workers have been infected with the coronavirus. All three recorded McDonald’s outbreaks, including one in eastern Oregon in which 40 people associated with two McDonald’s outlets near Hermiston became infected in July.

Blake Casper, owner of 63 McDonald’s franchises in Florida, said in an interview that about 100 of his 3,500 workers had become ill with COVID-19 so far, cases that do not appear in OSHA complaints or public state health department data. Casper, who is also chairman of the National Owners Assn., a franchisees group, contended that only one of those workers had gotten ill at work, citing contact tracing by his human resources department.

Franchisees like Casper run almost all the nation’s outlets. These independent owners pay rent and a cut of sales to McDonald’s USA, but set workers’ pay and benefits themselves. Casper said they have borne most of the financial cost of responding to the pandemic.

“We all got surprised — shocked — when this thing came barreling down in early March,” Casper said. Franchisees “scrambled” to buy protective gear and establish safety procedures, he said. They received guidance from corporate headquarters, he said, but little in the way of financial assistance, beyond McDonald’s using its massive buying power to secure special prices on protective gear.

SEIU officials said McDonald’s workforce has been deeply worried about contracting COVID-19 on the job. In a union survey from April, more than 90% of respondents said they had trouble getting masks, and one in five reported working while ill, either because they lacked paid sick leave or were afraid of being penalized for not showing up. The union also points to strikes over COVID safety that have shut down more than 100 McDonald’s outlets in 20 cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago and Oakland. The company has dismissed the strikes as publicity stunts.

As the pandemic unfolded, McDonald’s USA ordered franchisees to comply with a long list of safety measures: They were required to enforce social distancing, provide adequate protective gear and ensure that cleaning procedures were followed, said Garrett, the executive in charge.

McDonald’s USA also pushed franchisees to offer paid sick leave to workers during the pandemic. But franchisees pushed back, saying they were “losing faith” in management because the company wasn’t providing the financial relief they needed.

McDonald’s USA backed away from the sick-pay issue. But David Tovar, a company spokesman, said he is confident that McDonald’s workers can get paid sick leave during the crisis — either from franchisees or through provisions of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act and state and local laws.

Meanwhile, the company says it has aided its franchisees by deferring hundreds of millions of dollars in rent and royalty payments and by pumping $100 million into marketing.

Many franchisees also have gotten help from federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, a feature of the CARES Act.

Operators of at least 70 McDonald’s outlets facing coronavirus complaints got the loans, collectively borrowing at least $50 million, according to Small Business Administration data. Among them was the corporation that owns the Telegraph Avenue store in Oakland, which borrowed at least $1 million in potentially forgivable loans. The money is intended to help businesses pay their workers.

More than 100 complaints, spread across nearly 60 towns and cities, accused McDonald’s of botching its response to a known COVID-19 case, either by failing to shut down for a proper cleaning or by neglecting to get exposed workers into quarantine. Some of the complaints date back to the chaotic early weeks of the pandemic, but many others date from late summer or fall, after stores had time to solidify safety protocols.

Often, workers complained that they weren’t informed when COVID-19 hit their workplace. An employee at a Chicago outlet said she learned from a Facebook post that a co-worker had tested positive. Managers kept things under wraps to avoid ordering quarantines, complainants claimed.

In dozens of other complaints, as recently as November, McDonald’s staff said they found themselves working alongside employees with obvious flu-like symptoms, records show. As a worker in Jasper, Tenn., complained in July, “Several employees are sick with fevers and are being told to continue to work.”

Some employees reported that paid sick leave was discouraged or unavailable, so they worked even when they knew they shouldn’t.

“Three people in my house tested positive,” Rosa Contreras, a worker in Ontario, Calif., who lived with other McDonald’s employees, wrote in May. “But still I went to work one more day because I needed the money.” She said she later tested positive herself.

Some workers said they were required to enforce COVID safety rules, forcing them into conflict with customers.

In May, an irate customer in Oklahoma City shot and wounded three workers after being told an outlet’s dining area was closed because of the pandemic. In June, in Oakland, a 19-year-old cashier described being punched and slapped by a customer after she told him to wear a mask. In July, a Chicago customer who was admonished to wear a mask attacked a worker, slapping her and pulling her hair as bystanders videotaped the altercation.

As employees were circulated among outlets, the virus appeared to follow them — an allegation made in complaints from across the country.

After the May outbreak at Oakland’s Telegraph Avenue outlet, coronavirus cases were reported at a McDonald’s outlet three miles away in Berkeley, near the University of California campus.

By the end of June, more than 20 Berkeley workers and family members were ill with COVID-19 and soon other outlets in Oakland and Hayward had recorded infections, according to complaints.

Similar multi-store outbreaks occurred at McDonald’s outlets in Los Angeles and on Hawaii’s Big Island.

In May, workers backed by SEIU sued McDonald’s in Chicago, claiming the risk of COVID-19 was so great that four outlets in the city should be declared public nuisances. The lawsuit accused operators of violating a state safety order by failing to enforce mask wearing and social distancing, and by not informing workers about COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace.

In June, Circuit Court Judge Eve Reilly found that at three stores, company policies “are failing to be properly implemented.” She ordered McDonald’s of Illinois and a franchisee to impose social distancing and enforce the wearing of masks.

Emboldened by union organizers, 20 workers at the Telegraph Avenue McDonald’s in Oakland walked off the job in May, forcing the store to shut down. The workers sued and an Oakland judge imposed strict conditions for the outlet to reopen.

It reopened on July 15 for drive-through only.

After developing COVID-19 symptoms and nearly fainting at work, Yamile Osoy went home to the single room in an Oakland apartment that she shares with her two boys. There she nursed the children through the infection even as she was battling it herself.

“I felt bad,” she said. “But who was going to take care of my kids if I didn’t?”

She hasn’t worked since May. Her partner has helped with the rent, and she has depended on food banks for groceries.

She hopes to go back to work at McDonald’s as soon her old $14.14-an-hour job on the night shift opens up. She really needs the money, she said.

The perils of parenting through a pandemic

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This article was reported by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit journalism organization based in Emeryville, California.

Reveal reporters Jennifer Gollan and David Rodriguez contributed to this story.


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Emphasizing that the movement is for all workers, not just McDonald's employees, she promised that "we won't stop fighting, striking, and marching in the streets until we win $15 and a union for all."

As the New York Times pointed out Thursday:

In 2019, McDonald's announced it would no longer use its powerful lobbying arm to fight attempts to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour at the federal, state and local level. In a call with Wall Street analysts in January, the McDonald's chief executive, Chris Kempczinski, said the company was doing "just fine" in the more than two dozen states that had increased minimum wages in a phased-in way.

In fact, despite having many of its dining rooms closed or with limited capacity in parts of the country for much of the pandemic, the strength of McDonald’s drive-throughs helped push its profit to more than $4.7 billion in 2020. It paid its shareholders more than $3.7 billion in dividends and spent another $874 million repurchasing shares before suspending the program in early March of last year.

The McDonald's pay announcement—as it attempts to hire 10,000 new employees over the next three months—comes as workers across various industries continue fighting for a $15 federal minimum wage opposed by not only many Republicans in Congress but also some Democrats, despite President Joe Biden's support for it.

"McDonald's is raising wages because thousands of courageous workers marched in the streets and demanded dignity on the job," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Thursday. "But make no mistake, we won't stop fighting until all of them get $15 an hour and a union. When working people stand together, they cannot be defeated."

Sanders and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) introduced the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 in January. The next month, Sanders, the Senate Budget Committee chair, held a hearing to highlight the need for a $15 minimum wage and the dramatic pay disparity between executives and workers on the frontlines of the pandemic.

"You should never have to work multiple jobs in the United States and have nowhere to sleep," said 41-year-old Terrence Wise, a McDonald's worker and Fight for $15 and a Union leader in Kansas City who testified in February about his decades working in the fast food industry. While he was growing up in South Carolina, Wise's family lived in government housing and received food stamps. His mother worked at Hardee's, a fast food chain, and his father was a cook in the military.

"Even with two full-time incomes, my family had to skip meals," Wise shared with senators. At age 16, to help keep the lights on and feed his family, Wise got his first job, at Taco Bell, making $4.25 an hour. He soon got a second job at Wendy's. By 17, the A-student had to leave school and abandon his dreams of college to work full-time.

[email protected]' CEO didn't show up to speak to the @SenateBudget hearing Thursday, but McDonald's worker and #FightFor15 leader Terrence Wise did.

We know why McD's didn't show up. They don't want to have to face the truth. #RaiseTheWage pic.twitter.com/tcpHoWlBaI

— Fight For 15 (@fightfor15) February 26, 2021

Although both Wise and his fiancee, a home healthcare provider, are both employed full-time, their family of five has experienced homelessness. He testified about his three daughters struggling to sleep in their purple mini-van in freezing temperatures, even before the pandemic. "Since Covid-19, it's gotten harder," he explained, detailing how his weekly hours were cut from 40 to 28 and his family—which relies on food stamps and Medicaid—was forced to move in with relatives after being evicted.

"During the lockdown, McDonald's gave me a piece of paper to to show the police in case I got pulled over. It said I was an essential employee," Wise said. "But I can tell you they treat us more like second-class citizens than essential workers."


DoubleTree chocolate chip cookies

DoubleTree, the hotel chain known for serving its guests warm cookies at check-in, understands customers might be craving them by this point. That's why the company has published its recipe for the first time.

Here's how to make 26 cookies.

Ingredients:

  • ½ pound butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2¼ cups flour
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 2⅔ cups Nestle Tollhouse semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1¾ cups chopped walnuts
  1. Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add eggs, vanilla and lemon juice, blending with mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, then medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy, scraping down bowl.
  3. With mixer on low speed, add flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, blending for about 45 seconds. Don’t overmix.
  4. Remove bowl from mixer and stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
  5. Portion dough with a scoop (about 3 tablespoons) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Space about 2 inches apart.
  6. Preheat oven to 300°F. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and center is still soft.
  7. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for about 1 hour.
  8. Cook’s note: You can freeze the unbaked cookies, and there’s no need to thaw. Preheat oven to 300°F and place frozen cookies on parchment paper-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake until edges are golden brown and center is still soft.

Apache, 2 other Houston oil companies cut nearly 600 jobs

Apache headquarters in Houston. The company is cutting dozens of jobs in Midland.

Three Houston oil and gas companies Thursday said they would slash nearly 600 jobs in Texas, a day after Occidental Petroleum began a massive staff reduction.

Oil and gas producer Apache Corp. announced the largest of the cutbacks, saying it would eliminate more than 270 positions as it closes its regional San Antonio office.

Meanwhile, oil field services company Enterprise Offshore Drilling said it would lay off around 60 workers, part of a planned release of a Gulf of Mexico oil rig.

A third company, Valerus Field Solutions, said it&rsquos closing an oil and gas equipment plant in Sealy, west of Houston, in March and eliminating about 250 jobs. Valerus is a division of SNC-Lavalin Group, the Montreal-based company that bought it in 2014.

Modest oil prices and spending cuts have contributed to the loss of nearly 5,000 oil and gas jobs in Texas from June through November, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. Thursday&rsquos announcements followed news that Occidental began cutting workers in the wake of its August acquisition of The Woodlands-based Anadarko Petroleum.

Houston-based Apache said it is reducing its global workforce by up to 15 percent &mdash about 500 jobs &mdash as part of a broader restructuring announced late last year. The job cuts include those eliminated through attrition, but some of the San Antonio jobs will be moved to Houston or other offices, an Apache spokesman said.

The San Antonio closing and the 272 job cuts will be finalized in early March, according to a letter the company filed with the Texas Workforce Commission.

&ldquoApache has already centralized key activities and seen positive results and is looking to take further steps in that direction,&rdquo said company spokesman Phil West. &ldquoStaff reductions are always difficult, and we are working to support those employees who will be affected.&rdquo

Apache had a difficult 2019, reporting a larger-than-expected $170 million loss in the third quarter. Its stock price plunged more than 50 percent from late 2018 through a recent December low. The stock rebounded this week with the company&rsquos discovery of oil off the coast of Suriname in South America. The stock fell nearly $1 early Thursday before rebounding to close down just 13 cents at $32.60 per share.

The company expects to save $150 million per year in its reorganization. In addition, Apache aims to slash capital spending this year by up to 20 percent &mdash a cutback of $250 million to $500 million.

While Apache has a notable presence in South Texas&rsquo Eagle Ford shale closer to San Antonio, it has increasingly turned to West Texas&rsquo booming Permian Basin for production. Apache could manage its Eagle Ford operations from Houston or even its West Texas hub.

While Apache&rsquos layoffs are aimed at cutting costs, the positions being cut by Enterprise followed an expected shutdown of a Gulf rig owned by EnVen Energy.

In a letter filed with the Texas Workforce Commission, Enterprise said it would layoff 61 workers aboard the rig, which is about 100 miles offshore. EnVen plans to cease operations at the end of January, Amy Warner, Enterprise&rsquos vice president of human resources, wrote in her letter to the state.

The layoffs began in November and are expected to be completed by the end of February.

In a statement, EnVen said the rig release was planned and followed the completion of a nearly two-and-a-half-year drilling program.

Privately held Enterprise launched in January 2017 and is headquartered in Houston&rsquos Energy Corridor. It provides crews for offshore drilling rigs and employs more than 500 workers.