Women McDonald's workers and their allies spoke out against alleged workplace abuses during a Chicago protest held Tuesday morning to coincide with International Women's Day. Progress Illinois was there for the protest.
Female McDonald's workers and their allies protested in Chicago Tuesday morning, demanding "respect" on the job and an end to alleged "verbal abuse and harassment" in the workplace.
Members of the Fight for $15 campaign staged the demonstration outside the Rock 'n' Roll McDonald's in River North to coincide with International Women's Day. Several dozen workers chanted call-and-response style, "What do we want? Respect! When do we want it? Now!"
The female workers -- who spanned a wide range of ages, from 20s to 60s, and were mostly Hispanic -- also spoke out in support of immigration justice and against alleged age discrimination and workplace-based "gender and language inequalities."
Rock 'n' Roll McDonald's worker Teresa Cervantes, 46, delivered prepared remarks inside the restaurant, calling for a company investigation into one of the establishment's shift supervisors.
"This person continually harasses me, using abusive language and persistent threats, psychological pressure and retaliation" for requesting schedule changes or taking time off, Cervantes said, adding that the supervisor in question "deliberately makes me clean over and over again [and] continually humiliates me, saying that everything I do is useless."
Cervantes, who has worked at McDonald's for 17 years and makes $10 an hour, said she wants "respect and a stop to the verbal abuse and harassment that supervisors continually exert against working women, many [of whom] remain silent out of fear."
A request seeking comment for this story was left with McDonald's.
Adriana Sanchez, 43, a Rock 'n' Roll McDonald's employee of five years, rallied the crowd outside the restaurant.
"Today is International Women's Day," she said through a translator. "Today I want to denounce how they treat women here at McDonald's. They discriminate against us as women and also as workers. Us female workers who work in fast food continue to make low wages."
Sanchez, who earns a $10 hourly wage, later started a chant in Spanish that roughly translated to, "We shall not cry, we shall organize!"
Here are scenes from the protest, including additional comments from Sanchez:
Maria Garcia, 64, is a McDonald's employee on the city's West Side. After working 16 years at the fast food giant, Garcia said she earns $10 an hour, the current minimum wage in Chicago.
"I'm here fighting for the end of elder abuse and discrimination [and] for a living wage." Garcia said through a translator. "Because I've worked there for so long, and I depend on this work, I work harder than these youngins that are new to this."
Garcia said she is often ordered around at work by management in a degrading manner.
"They treat me bad. I get screamed at a lot. I get screamed at all the time," she said. "When I'm working, they scream, 'Maria! Come over here and do the kitchen. Maria! Go do the bathroom. Maria! Do this. Maria! Do that.' It's a lot of abuse."
Women workers also described McDonald's wages as disrespectful, explaining that many female employees barely earn enough to support their families. According to the Fight for $15 campaign, women represent two-thirds of fast food workers nationwide. Over one-third of fast food employees age 20 or older are raising children, according to the group, which is pushing for a $15 minimum wage and union recognition for fast food and other low-wage workers.
South Side McDonald's worker Lucina Gutierrez, 58, said she and other female fast food employees are struggling to make ends meet.
Gutierrez, an 18-year employee of McDonald's, makes $10.75 an hour.
"I'm fighting for a living wage of $15 an hour," she said through a translator. "I want to be able to give ... a good education to my granddaughter and daughter and have a better life."