Image via Shutterstock Labor organizers call on McDonald's to cover sick leave
Image via Shutterstock

Fight for $15 and union organizers want the corporation to pledge $61.2 million to cover 10% of workers for additional sick leave for two weeks.

McDonald’s is being challenged by labor activists to put its money where its mouth is. 

On June 3, the fast food giant’s social media account shared a video in support of George Floyd and other slain Black men and women, proclaiming the company’s intolerance of racial injustice. Naming some of those whose lives were lost because of structural racism, the video states: “They were all one of us.” Later: “It’s why we stand for them and any other victims of systemic oppression and violence.”

In response, a coalition of labor groups demanded the company enact the values it expressed by redirecting its quarterly dividend toward increasing sick pay for more workers.  

“Rather than an empty PR social media posting, the company could demonstrate its purported stance by, for once, halting its dividend and redirecting that money towards helping its frontline workers weather a pandemic disproportionately impacting people of color,” the Fight for $15 memo reads.

Fight for $15 and union organizers want the corporation to pledge $61.2 million to cover 10% of workers for additional sick leave for two weeks. This would cover leave at $15 an hour if one in 10 employees became infected by coronavirus or needed to quarantine for the safety of themselves and McDonald’s millions of customers. The plan would cost only 6.6% of the expected quarterly dividend, which is payable to shareholders today. 

McDonald’s has paid shareholder dividends on its common stock for 44 straight years, according to the brief, shelling out $26.7 billion in dividends since 2012.

“We do not tolerate inequity, injustice, or racism,” the McDonald’s video stated.

The organizers’ call to action for McDonald’s comes in an atmosphere of economic uncertainty, as scores of companies have suspended or cut their dividend payments this year, citing hardship from the pandemic. More than 44 million workers have filed for jobless claims since the pandemic began in March. Meanwhile, the United States is the only one of 22 rich countries that does not guarantee workers some form of paid sick leave. 

RELATED: New York Sues Trump Administration for Trying to Gut Paid Leave During Pandemic

Less than a week after Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on March 18—which provided two weeks of paid sick leave and 12 weeks of paid family leave—the Trump administration tried to backend it by issuing guidelines slashing the number of workers eligible to receive paid leave. 

A report released in May by the Federal Reserve found that one in five workers still had no paid sick leave in April.