McDonald’s is secretly collecting ‘strategic intelligence’ on workers advocating for a $15 minimum wage, a bombshell new report in Motherboard claims.
The expose, which was published Wednesday, cites several sources who claim the company has a ‘team of intelligence analysts in Chicago and London keeping an eye on the activities of Fight For $15 labor organizers across the world’ with the aim of identifying ‘which McDonald’s workers are active in the movement’.
The Fight For $15 campaign started back 2012, when a group of fast food workers in New York took strike action demanding to be paid $15 per hour.
The movement quickly spread to several other states, resulting in widespread walk-outs among McDonald’s workers and others employed in the service industry.
Fight For $15 soon become a powerful political force, and several states have now adopted that amount as a minimum hourly wage.
However, the federal minimum wage still stands at $7.25 per hour and McDonald’s has publicly expressed its opposition to paying a $15 per hour to all of its employees across the US.
According to documents obtained by Motherboard, one of the goals of the intelligence team is to figure out ‘how and where Fight For $15 will attack the [McDonald’s] brand’.
McDonald’s is secretly collecting ‘strategic intelligence’ on workers advocating for a $15 minimum wage, a bombshell new report in Motherboard claims. Pictured: Demonstrators participate in a protest outside of McDonald’s corporate headquarters in Chicago in January
The Fight For $15 campaign started back 2012, when a group of fast food workers in New York walked took strike action demanding to be paid $15 per hour. It is now a large nationwide movement. Pictured: striking McDonald’s workers demanding a $15 minimum wage demonstrate in Las Vegas in June 2019
In order to do this, the intelligence agents have allegedly trawled through social media accounts examining profiles of McDonald’s workers who may be involved in the movement.
The analysts have also purportedly used a ‘social media monitoring tool to collect and scrape data’.
Two people formerly employed in McDonald’s corporate offices told Motherboard that the analysts have ‘attempted to use the tool to reconstruct the friends lists and networks of workers involved in the labor movement [by] using fake Facebook personas’.
‘The entire thing was messed up,’ one of the sources told Motherboard.
‘A company should be working with employees and the people that drive the business, not building an intelligence program directed at reporting on those same people.’
A demonstrator is pictured participating in a protest outside of McDonald’s corporate headquarters in Chicago in January. McDonald’s has publicly expressed its opposition to paying a $15 per hour to all of its employees across the US
According to Motherboard, ‘the intelligence team’s surveillance efforts also included keeping an eye on the public social media accounts of prominent labor movement leaders’.
McDonald’s spokesperson Jesse Lewin has denied the accusation.
In a statement, he told Motherboard that the fast food giant ‘has never used fake social media accounts to actively gather information, including labor activity’.
However, Lewin admitted that the company does have an intelligence division devoted to identifying any threats to the safety of the company’s restaurants, patrons and workers.
‘For example, we have a responsibility to monitor for labor protest activity that may have the intended purpose to disrupt restaurant operations that could put crew and customer safety at risk,’ Lewin stated.
‘This is not unusual for a large multinational corporation like ours.’
Moreover, he insisted ‘none of the business intelligence work is related to labor relations.’
Meanwhile, activists say they are disappointed by McDonald’s failure to support a wage hike, particularly as the company publicly professes to being for social justice.
‘I think what’s frustrating is that McDonald’s—to put it very simply—is not putting their money where their mouth is,’ one former employee told Motherboard.
‘They might say ‘We support black lives’ or change their logo. But what is it doing structurally to help black lives, and to show that they matter, not through PR, but through supporting workers?’
A McDonald’s spokesperson stated that the company does have an intelligence division devoted to identifying any threats to the safety of the company’s restaurants, patrons and workers