We have heard from Donald Trump’s own mouth his disgusting, unrelenting, unrepentant commitment to hating, degrading and sexually abusing women. It could be the last straw for his presidential campaign.
Now, on to the other anti-woman, anti-worker bosses!
That’s what Fight for $15 is saying and doing in a campaign against sexual harassment that began on Oct. 5 against McDonald’s, the fast food chain employing 1.9 million low-wage workers worldwide. Fight for $15 is best known for organizing to raise the minimum wage and secure a union for low-wage workers.
Fast food workers are notoriously underpaid and overworked. Like a growing preponderance of U.S. workers, they are mostly young, largely women and people of color, often LGBTQ, perhaps with a disability, with fewer resources to fall back on if they lose their jobs. That makes them especially vulnerable to abuse of all kinds, including sexual harassment and rape.
Research shows that fast food workers are 60 percent more likely to be sexually harassed than workers elsewhere. And 42 percent of them have had to endure that harassment for fear they’d lose their jobs if they fought back.
Now these workers are saying: No more!
Fifteen McDonald’s workers, under the banner of #Fightfor15, have filed charges against the burger chain through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They assert they were subjected to “inappropriate — and illegal — sexual contact, innuendo and propositions” while working for the corporation.
Those abstract words mask the horrifying stories flooding in, overwhelmingly from female workers, about managers who offered them money for sex or ignored their pleas when male co-workers showed them photos of their genitals. Needless to say, appealing to the “parent” corporation yielded no help.
The struggle against sexual harassment and rape began millennia ago, when patriarchy arose at the same time as classes, and women and gender-nonconforming people were subjected to male ruling class privilege. In the U.S., sexual terror — and the fightback against it — has been a fact of working women’s lives, from enslaved African women to domestic workers, from farmhouse to assembly line, in blue collar, pink collar and white collar work, from South, North, East to West.
It took a campaign as recently as the 1960s by women’s liberation and civil rights activists to get sexual coercion at a job recognized as “illegal.” That enabled workers to go to the federal EEOC for some protection.
Now a new front of struggle has opened up at actual workplaces, as McDonald’s fast food workers in 30 cities picketed against sexual harassment at their job sites on Oct. 6.
The class struggle is rapidly accelerating with the intertwining of working-class organizing, LGBTQ leadership, women’s liberation issues and the fight to make Black and Brown lives matter.
Bosses, you are being served notice: No more grabbing. No more rape or sexual coercion. No more racism. No more LGBT-phobia. No more anti-people-with-disabilities.
We mean it: We’re going to take your hands off our bodies and our lives!