Meet The Black Woman Behind The McDonald’s Sexual Harassment Strike

September 19, 2018  |  

CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 18: McDonald’s workers, joined by other activists, protest sexual harassment at the fast-food chain’s restaurants outside of the company’s headquarters on September 18, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Similar actions which took place around the country and were touted as the first-ever nationwide ‘strike’ against sexual harassment in the fast food industry. According to a recent study forty percent of female fast-food workers experience unwanted sexual behavior on the job. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again but Black women, for better or worse, are often the moral compass of this nation. I had seen headlines about the McDonald’s employees striking across several cities in the country.

Inspired by the #MeToo movement, low wage workers, have started speaking out about the sexual harassment they’ve experienced at various McDonald’s franchises. Many of these employees gathered yesterday at the fast-food chain’s corporate headquarters in Chicago. During the rally, they shared their experiences with sexual abuse, coercion and harassment. These women said that McDonald’s has done very little to address complaints from 25 workers, filed as early as 2016.

Women who participated in the Chicago rally shared their stories, including one from Teresa Cervantes who said she walked into the manager’s office to talk about her schedule and the manager asked her if she was there for “pito,” a word used for male genitalia. Cervantes’ boss was known for pressuring workers to have sex in the office or store bathrooms. Cervantes said, “I told her I’m not that kind of worker, I was just trying to be a responsible workers.”

Another woman at the rally, Adriana Alvarez, who went on strikes, the day the complaints were filed, said, “The public doesn’t know what we go through, behind the counters, in the bathrooms, in the janitors closets,” she said. “I really hope this does make a statement. We’re sick and tired of having to deal with this.”

What I didn’t know was that this movement was started by a Black woman, Barbara Johnson.

in a “Now This” video, she said:

“I’m a victim of sexual harassment. I’ve been there. I’ve been in the situation. And now, today is the day that I break my silence and that I get my voice heard. It made me feel like, I didn’t know what to do or who to go to, who to turn to. It made me feel unsafe. It made me feel like I was living in a nightmare.”

Johnson said she’s speaking out because, “We have to let them know that we’re not gonna keep on letting things happen to us, and that we have rights and feelings. And we have a life that we want to live, too. But we should be able to live without being sexually harassed.”

You can watch the video below.

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