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McDonald's employees and advocates in St. Louis strike over sexual harassment

Activists rally outside a McDonald's in St. John. Sept. 18, 2018.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio
Activists rally outside a McDonald's in St. John.

Over 50 McDonald’s workers and advocates rallied outside of the McDonald’s at St. Charles Rock Road and Brown Road in St. John on Tuesday as a part of a one-day national strike to protest on-the-job sexual harassment at the restaurant chain.

The national strike was first proposed by women’s groups within Fight for $15, a workers’ rights advocacy organization. It was later approved after a nationwide vote by Fight for $15 members Sept. 11.

Organizers hope that the strike will persuade McDonald’s corporate officials to enforce the company's existing zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment and to provide more training for franchise owners and workers to prevent harassment.

McDonald’s corporate officials said that the company supports the existing policies and procedures designed to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. They also said McDonald’s may hire consultants to help with training.

McDonald's worker Frances Holmes said that sexual harassment has been a long-standing issue in the fast-food industry.

“McDonald's say they have a zero tolerance for sexual harassment, but our workers get harassed at McDonald's everyday,” Holmes said.

Latasha Chapple also joined workers striking at the McDonald's in St. John. Chapple said that her daughter was harassed while working at a McDonald’s in the St. Louis area.

“Something needs to get done, because there's too many young people out here on the streets that ain't doing nothing,” Chapple said. “They want to work, but they are afraid to work because of what's going on.”

Eighteen-year-old Barbara Johnson said that she was harassed while working at a St. Louis-area establishment.

"I want McDonald's to take their time and effort that they put into everything else — like the labor, how much we get paid, the uniform policies, how we need to be on time,” Johnson said. “They need to take the same time and effort and put it into the sexual harassment policy, too.”

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Wayne is the morning newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.

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