By PAOLO CREMIDIS & CRAIG ROGERS
Labor activists shouted “thief” at a man costumed as Ronald McDonald as they mock arrested him on Tuesday in front of a midtown McDonald’s, to highlight a lawsuit filed against the fast food chain alleging that the company deprived workers of breaks and forced them to work overtime without pay.
The dramatics were staged at a press conference organized by a group calling themselves Fast food Forward, elected officials, and several community groups to protest the treatment of workers by McDonalds and other fast food companies.
“I’m here today to talk about the wage theft that McDonalds perpetrates on its workers,” said Franklin De La Paz a McDonald’s worker in front of the outlet at 350 Fifth Ave. in the shadow of the Empire State Building.”I work in a Midtown McDonalds, and workers are sometimes told they cannot clock in until it gets busy.”
Many workers also complained that McDonalds did not provide uniforms and other supplies for their workers.
“I came from El Salvador 14 years ago, and I never thought that I’d still be living in poverty today,” said employee Rosa Rivera.
“The law says I should be getting an extra $7.85 for all of the times I have washed my uniform on my own dime,” she added. “I’ve probably lost thousands over my 14 years at McDonald’s due to this type of wage theft.”
The lawsuit, filed in New York and Michigan seeks, among other things, to require the company to refund workers for the time and cost of cleaning uniforms.
Meanwhile New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that a settlement was reached with the owner of seven McDonald’s franchises over charges that workers were deprived of pay to which they were entitled.
“ McDonald’s cannot hide from its responsibility for these unlawful practices,” said Jonathan Westin, director of Fast Food Forward.
Public Advocate Letitia James vowed to introduce legislation into the City Council to create a hotline for whistleblowers to report so-called wage theft, as well new guidelines for city agencies to investigate.
“The Fast food industry is a rapidly growing industry with a $200 billion dollar market,”
said Jame. “McDonalds is earning $5.5 Billion dollars in profit every year while these workers are barely scraping by. Which is why we want to empower city agencies to investigate wage theft. ‘
McDonalds corporate reps on the scene declined to comment.