Virginia workers battle blatant racism at McDonalds

Ten former workers at three McDonald’s locations in South Boston, Va. have come forward via a federal civil rights lawsuit to demand justice for being fired simply for being Black or Latino.

Managers reportedly said the restaurants were “too dark” and made comments about needing to get “the ghetto out of the store.”

One supervisor also sexually harassed female employees and those responsible for the racist firings habitually engaged in racial epithets. Nine of the plaintiffs are African-American and one is Latino.

South Boston, Virginia has a poverty rate of 30.8 percent which is more than double the Virginia state average. Being in one of the more conservative counties of the at-will employment state, it is no surprise that a regressive climate for working people exists, magnified for working people of color.

“McDonald’s closely monitors everything we do, from the speed of the drive-through line, to the way we smile and fold customers’ bags – but when we try to tell the company that we’re facing discrimination, they ignore us and say that it’s not their problem,” said Pamela Marable who tried to seek help from McDonald’s corporate. She is one of the plaintiffs of the federal civil rights lawsuit, supported by local civil rights organizations. (Washington Post)

This discrimination does not occur in a vacuum, but reflects the tide of economic depression and racism that has defined Southern Virginia. Some 1,200 African Americans in South Boston live in poverty, more than twice the number of  poor whites in the same town.

This lawsuit against blatant racism at McDonald’s in South Boston takes place against the backdrop of the national fast food workers’ movement for a living wage, decent working conditions and the right to organize without retaliation. The struggle against racism is a an important part of the movement to push back against racism and exploitation in the food service industry.

Capitalists have long seen the South as a prime region for supersized profits due to regressive labor policies and discrimination. The workers of South Boston need our support in the their struggle against racism and for a living wage.

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