Farm Workers March on Rock and Roll McDonalds in Chicago

On Saturday in Chicago, farm workers and allies with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) held a 5-mile march and rally outside of a prominent McDonalds as part of the group’s campaign to encourage McDonald’s to use its leverage in the fast food industry to improve conditions for farm workers supplying its tomatoes. The campaign against McDonalds is a follow-up to the CIW’s successful campaign against Taco Bell.

march photo

On Saturday in Chicago, 300 to 400 members of the Coalition for Immokalee Workers (CIW) and their allies participated in a five-mile march to demand that McDonalds improve the working condition and pay for farm workers supplying tomatoes to the restaurant. Marchers chanted “Down, Down with McSploitation, Up, Up with the Fair Food Nation,” “Exploitation makes me Grimace, we won’t stop until it’s Finished,” “Si Se Puede, and “Hey Mickey, you won’t last, you won’t last, we’ll kick your ass” (sung to the tune of the song “Hey Mickey”) as they marched from Plaza Tenochtitlan in Pilsen to the “Rock and Roll” McDonalds in downtown Chicago. Along the way the march stopped and briefly rallied at McDonalds restaurants, culminating with a large rally at the Rock and Roll McDonalds.

At the rally, the CIW announced that it is expanding its campaign to target Chipotle Mexican Grill, a “Mexican-style” restaurant that McDonalds retains 70% ownership of after a public stock offering in January of this year. Chipotle, who touts their corporate philosophy in the manifesto “Food with Integrity,” describes how they want to “revolutionize the way America grows and gathers food” by “working back along the food chain” beyond distributors to encourage healthy production of vegetables and humane living conditions for animals used by Chipotle. While calling for improved production of vegetables and animals used by the company, Chipotle says nothing about the conditions under which farm workers supplying the company work. Consequently, the CIW is calling on Chipotle to expand their mission to include “work with dignity” and is demanding that the company act to improve the labor conditions of farm workers supplying the restaurant by increasing the amount they pay farm workers by a penny per pound of tomatoes picked.

The CIW’s campaign against McDonalds, launched in December of 2005, is a follow-up to their successful boycott of Taco Bell that ended last year with Taco Bell’s parent company, Yum! Brands, agreeing to increase the amount that Taco Bell pays for its tomatoes and to take a role in improving the conditions for farm workers in the tomato industry. McDonalds, who is one of the largest corporations in the fast-food industry, has refused to work with the CIW to expand on the precedent set by Taco Bell, and instead has ignored calls to improve the conditions for workers supplying its tomatoes. While the company has undertaken some steps towards “social responsibility” in the past few years with the decision to purchase fair-trade coffee for 650 of its restaurants and the establishment of a code of conduct that guarantees labor rights for workers supplying the company with toys, it has failed to do so with farm workers in the United States. As part of this effort, the CIW has engaged in a number of tactics that they fine-tuned during the Taco Bell boycott, including pray-ins, connections with student groups, and the development of an extensive coalition to pressure McDonalds. Additionally, as they did during the campaign against Taco Bell, the CIW conducted a “Truth Tour” where they visited 16 cities across the country educating and organizing allies and potential constituents while protesting at McDonalds restaurants along the way. The tour ended in Chicago with a meeting with representatives of McDonalds at their corporate headquarters outside Chicago.

Photos from the Chicago March and Rally

Send an email to McDonalds urging them to improve conditions for farm workers

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media //