About 20 people including 6 GW students protested low wages for McDonald’s employees Saturday outside the fast-food chain’s store on Columbia and 18th streets in Adams Morgan.
Protesters, who included Georgetown students and impromptu supporters, painted their faces like clowns and wore clown costumes outside the restaurant. They carried signs reading “No More Mexplotiation” and “No Me Encanta,” referencing McDonald’s recent Spanish ad campaign with a translation of “I’m lovin’ it.” In a letter addressed to McDonald’s, protesters asked for an increase in the per-pound payment to tomato farmers by 1 cent and an increase in restaurant employee wages.
Protesters worked in conjunction with the Coalition of Immokalee Worker, according to a D.C. Student Labor Action Project press release. The partnership between students and workers resulted in supply changes at Taco Bell in 2005.
Junior Matthew Brokman, the Student Labor Action Project coordinator, painted his face and wore a clown outfit with white suspenders to imitate the restaurant’s mascot Ronald McDonald.
“Our message is that McDonald’s can’t clown around with worker’s rights,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Hatchet before the event. “The tomatoes are singled out because they are one area where we have seen … unjust labor practices.”
He said he thought the event was successful.
“We managed to get several people to turn away, and that means they got the message,” Brokman said.
Cars honked in support as they passed, and many people stopped to ask questions and listen. Luis Medina, a GW alumnus, was one of the impromptu demonstrators who stopped and joined in. He passed by the protest on his bicycle and chanted along with protesters, ringing his bike bell in time to the chanting.
“I like it that (students) are interested in doing the right things for people,” he said.
Freshman Nick Savio, a member of GW’s Progressive Student Union, said McDonald’s treatment of farm workers is a case of “slavery still going on in America.”
Protesters also chalked messages on the sidewalk in front of the store reading, “Boycott!” and “For Good French Fries Try Amsterdam Falafel,” a Mediterranean restaurant located a few blocks down 18th Street.
The chalked messages were mopped away by a McDonald’s employees. The McDonald’s manager and employees declined comment.
Protesters attempted to enter McDonald’s to deliver a letter about worker’s rights to the manager. They were denied entrance, but eventually gave the letter to the manager when he came outside to observe the demonstration.
The protest lasted about an hour, and participants said simultaneous protests outside McDonald’s were held throughout the country.