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Bernie Sanders to join striking McDonald’s workers demanding union rights in Cedar Rapids

June 8, 2019

McDonald’s Workers to Walk Off Job in Iowa Calling for Right to Union to Address Low Pay, Sexual Harassment, Workplace Violence.

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – Bernie Sanders will march Sunday in Cedar Rapids with striking McDonald’s workers demanding the right to a union–the second time in recent weeks he’s joining together with cooks and cashiers to support their bold demand for a voice on the job.

Workers from Des Moines and Cedar Rapids will be on strike Sunday demanding the right to a union as the best way to raise pay, end sexual harassment and curb workplace violence.

“I’ve been working for McDonald’s for four years and I’m only paid $9.10 an hour,” said Jaron Brandon, a Des Moines McDonald’s worker. “That’s nowhere near enough to get by. I can’t afford to pay rent and I struggle every month to cover the bills. We need the right to a union to fight for higher pay and solve other problems McDonald’s workers are facing, from erratic scheduling to sexual harassment to violence at work. McDonald’s should use their billions in profits to pay good wages and give us the union rights we are demanding.”

In late May, Sanders hosted a video town hall with striking workers in Dallas, on the doorstep of McDonald’s shareholder meeting. The town hall coincided with a coast-to-coast strike by McDonald’s workers, who were supported across the country in their call for union rights by 2020 hopefuls.

“What we have got to do is…make sure that workers at McDonald’s, workers in the whole fast-food industry, workers at Walmart, workers in all of the low-wage industries in this country have a right to join a union,” Sanders said to workers during the May 23 town hall. “Workers cannot get a fair shake unless they are organized, unless they are able to sit down and negotiate with their employers for fair wages, unless we address the issue of sexual harassment, the issue of violence on the job. The only way workers are going to make real progress and be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, to be treated with respect is with a union.”

WHO: Bernie Sanders, Cooks and Cashiers in the Fight for $15 and a Union, SEIU Local 199 President Cathy Glasson

WHAT:  Iowa McDonald’s workers go on strike, are joined by Bernie Sanders and other workers in the Fight for $15 and a Union. The action will begin with a strike line and remarks at a Cedar Rapids McDonald’s, followed by a march leading into the Iowa Democratic Party’s 2019 Hall of Fame Celebration.

WHEN: Sunday, June 9th — 11:45am CT Rally at McDonald’s, 12:45pm CT March

WHERE: McDonald’s, 1530 1st Avenue East, Cedar Rapids, 11:45am CT

March Starting Point 1st Street SE & 2nd Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, 12:45pm CT

March Ending Point DoubleTree Hotel, 350 1st Ave NE, Cedar Rapids, 1:15pm CT


The strike comes as 25 more McDonald’s workers announced they have filed sexual harassment complaints or lawsuits against the company– bring the total number of complaints brought by workers in the Fight for $15 to more than 50 in the last three years. The combination of suits and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charges allege a trail of illegal conduct in both corporate and franchise McDonald’s restaurants across 20 cities—including groping, indecent exposure, propositions for sex and lewd comments by supervisors—against workers as young as 16 years old.

Sunday’s strike also follows an explosive new report by the National Employment Law Project that details an “epidemic” of workplace violence at McDonald’s restaurants across the country. As the report was released last month, nine workers walked off the job at a Chicago McDonald’s that has been the site of more than 30 violent incidents in the last six months alone. Workers filed a complaint with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and called on the agency to launch a systemic investigation into violence at McDonald’s.

Workers in the Fight for $15 and a Union also launched Fight for $15 2020 last month to push candidates to embrace unions as the best way to tackle inequality and fight racism. The initiative seeks to make the need to put more workers in unions a defining issue of the 2020 campaign, in much the same way workers in the Fight for $15 and a Union made a $15 minimum wage a flashpoint in the 2016 race for the White House.