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The following article appeared in Left Business Observer #86, November 1998. It retains its copyright and may not be reprinted or redistributed in any form - print, electronic, facsimile, anything - without the permission of LBO.


The Burger International  by Liza Featherstone
 Liza Featherstone is a freelance writer. Her followup to this article is also on this website.

 

Diners may complain about the dry burgers and the soggy rolls, and Wall Street may complain about sagging market share, but McDonald's has done a fine job at what it does best -- taking over the world. It's the largest retail property owner in the United States, and with 23,500 restaurants in 113 countries, also the world's largest food-service corporation. The Golden Arches are the second most recognized symbol in the world (topping the Christian cross, though lagging behind Olympic rings).

McDonald's is also very good at union-busting. It may be one of the most doggedly antiunion companies on earth: In the 1994-7 McLibel trial, McDonald's executives acknowledged quashing some 400 serious unionization efforts worldwide in the early 1970s alone. Nonetheless, this July, when Tessa Lowinger and Jennifer Wiebe, both now 17, were fed up with working conditions in a Squamish, British Columbia (BC), McDonald's, they decided to join a union. "It