RESTAURANT INDUSTRY

McDonald's workers protest harassment

McDonald’s workers in 12 U.S. cities walked off the job Tuesday to protest what they say is a continuing problem of sexual harassment and violence in the company’s stores.

Several hundred workers were expected to participate in Chicago, Houston, Miami, Detroit and other cities, according to Fight for $15 and a Union, a labor group that organized the strikes.

This is the fifth time since 2018 that McDonald’s workers have struck the company over what they say are inadequate efforts to stop sexual harassment in its stores. At least 50 workers have filed charges against McDonald’s alleging verbal and physical harassment over the last five years.

In April, McDonald’s announced it would require sexual harassment training, reporting procedures for complaints and annual employee surveys at its 40,000 stores worldwide starting in January 2022.

But some workers say that’s not enough. They want McDonald’s, not its franchisees, who own nearly all of its U.S. stores, to be held accountable for harassment in its restaurants.

— Associated Press

FOOD INDUSTRY

Big Chicken antitrust trial begins in Denver

After years of rumors and allegations, Big Chicken is now on trial. 

A group of 10 executives and employees of top U.S. poultry companies — including two former chief executives — are facing criminal antitrust charges in a trial getting underway this week in Denver. They face prison and million-dollar fines if convicted of fixing prices and rigging bids over nearly a decade.

The trial, the first to result from a years-long investigation in the $95 billion U.S. market for chicken, has ensnared affiliates of Pilgrim’s Pride and Perdue Farms among others. Together, the companies associated supply about a third of the chicken Americans eat. 

The move comes as the meat industry has been thrust into the spotlight amid soaring prices and after a wave of coronavirus outbreaks at packing plants. The Biden administration has signaled it will act aggressively against alleged livestock cartels, charging that antitrust practices have saddled consumers with rising costs at a time when inflation is increasingly becoming a political concern.

The defendants, who have all pleaded not guilty, are charged with violating the Sherman Act, a law passed in 1890 to protect consumers and the economy. 

In a court filing last week, the defendants said their price discussions weren’t illegal and that the government can’t prove they agreed to participate in a single, overarching conspiracy.

Also in Business

General Motors will use its dealership network to deploy up to 40,000 electric vehicle chargers across the United States and Canada, as the veteran automaker ramps up its shift to plug-in models. Starting next year, GM will give each dealer up to 10 Ultium-branded chargers to install in their communities. The chargers will be available for use by all EV drivers, not just those who buy a GM model.

Sweetgreen is struggling to get workers to prove they're vaccinated. The restaurant chain, which filed for an initial public offering on Monday, said in its filing that it has had "significant challenges" getting employees to submit proof of coronavirus vaccination. The company's locations are concentrated largely in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston and the D.C. area, all of which have some level of vaccine mandate related to indoor dining.

Coming today

Earnings: Boeing, Coca-Cola, General Motors, McDonald's, Ford

— From news services