As the world marks International Women’s Day with strikes, obituaries honoring oft-overlooked influential women, and pushes for change on issues including equal pay, McDonald’s is celebrating in its own way—by flipping its classic arches upside-down to resemble the letter "W."
McDonalds shared a video on Twitter about the move:
The gesture is symbolic—only one location will actually invert its sign, and 100 locations will have merchandise).
Since McDonald’s is the epitome of corporate America, it’s ironic that the company makes a symbolic gesture on a day rooted in the history of socialist women workers’ resistance. In many ways, McDonald's has actually made women's lives more difficult and less healthy. The internet remained largely unimpressed as social media users posted with the hashtag #McFeminism.
Here are three concrete ways McDonald’s could actually honor women—and all of its workers—by fixing some of its own labor issues.
1. Adjust wages in the United States.
The battle for a livable wage at McDonald’s is long and ongoing, most recently demonstrated in the Fight for $15.
In the summer of 2015, average hourly wages at McDonald's rose 89 cents to $9.90, going up to $10 in 2016. However, wages for employees who work at the restaurant's franchise locations would not be impacted. Ninety percent of McDonald’s stores are actually owned and operated as franchises. The fight to earn $15 an hour continues, including protests last May at the McDonald’s shareholder meeting.
2. Meet the demands of the #McStrike.
The ceremonial logo-switching has drawn international attention to the unjust ways in which McDonald’s treats its workers.
This comes amidst calls for the #McStrike, which began in the UK in 2017. Now, a petition circulated by Momentum and the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union is focused on the stories of women, including the reality of contracts that “have left women workers without enough money to support their families and have even led to homelessness.”
3. Address sexual harassment and employer responsibility.
In 2016, 15 claims of sexual harassment at McDonald’s locations across the U.S. were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
McDonald’s tried to pass off responsibility for the accusations, since all of the incidents except one occurred at McDonald’s franchise locations.
The corporate giant has been engaged in a multi-year battle over the question of its legal responsibility for things that occur at its franchises. It began in 2014, when the National Labor Relations Board looked into charges alleging McDonald’s had “violated the rights of employees as a result of activities surrounding employee protests,” specifically those who had participated in Fight for $15 strikes.
A 2015 National Labor Relations Board ruling could have deemed McDonald’s a joint employer and thus responsible for what takes place at its franchises, but the election of Donald Trump has complicated the matter. In 2017, Trump’s appointments to the NLRB shifted the majority, and the previous ruling was reversed. Still, the case between the NLRB and McDonald’s over this issue is ongoing, and as of January 2018, the case had been put on hold for settlement talks.