In a demonstration of what the Bernie Sanders campaign says makes its operation unique—”not just a campaign, but a movement”—its email list, social media team, and volunteer network was mobilized to galvanize support for a series of strikes by fast food workers taking place nationwide on Thursday.
As McDonald’s held its annual shareholders meeting, workers went on strike in cities across the country, demanding a $15 minimum wage, the right to form a union, and protection from sexual harassment and violence in the workplace.
Sanders rallied his supporters ahead of the strike, using his campaign’s email list to call on progressives to show solidarity with McDonald’s workers in cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, and Milwaukee.
“We’re building the largest volunteer army in the nation not just to win the Democratic nomination, but also to mobilize people to show up in key fights where people’s lives and livelihoods are on the line,” Claire Sandberg, Sanders’ national organizing director, told The Guardian. “We are proud to uphold Bernie’s commitment to workers and we will continue to activate our supporters and urge them to join picket lines across the country to support the fight for a strong labor movement.”
As workers rallied around the country—and McDonald’s shareholders learned about the billions of dollars the company made in profits in 2018 their annual meeting in Dallas’s Grand Hyatt Hotel—Sanders held a nearby video town hall where he spoke with labor organizers and workers in Dallas.
Bleu Rainer, a McDonald’s employee who has worked in stores in multiple states, told Sanders that “nothing changed” when Rainer moved from North Carolina to Florida.
“We’re building the largest volunteer army in the nation not just to win the Democratic nomination, but also to mobilize people to show up in key fights where people’s lives and livelihoods are on the line.” —Claire Sandberg, national organizing director, Bernie 2020
“We’re still overworked and underpaid,” Rainer said. “Everywhere in this country workers go through the same situations. Big corporations like McDonald’s have rigged the economic system so only they can benefit from their profit, and they make it harder and harder for us to get a fair shot at the American dream.”
“How do we rewrite the rules so workers like us have a fair shot at joining a union and corporations don’t have any power over what workers need in our families and our communities?” Rainer asked.
“The only time that working people make gains is when they organize and stand up against the kind of corporate greed that we are seeing today,” Sanders said. “We need a political revolution in this country which says that we’re going to have an economy and a government that works for all of us, not just the one percent.”
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