Working for Mcdonald's in Europe: The Unequal Struggle?

By Tony Royle | Go to book overview

5

'There's no place like home'

The impact of trade unions and collective bargaining frameworks

McDonald's is basically a non-union company and intends to stay that way.

(Michael Quinlan, CEO of the McDonald's Corporation until 1998)

This chapter examines the extent to which trade unions have been able to unionise McDonald's restaurants in several European countries and the extent to which differing national arrangements for collective bargaining have had an impact upon the corporation's 'home country' employment practices. We provide a brief analysis of the broader context of union organisation and collective bargaining in Europe and then move on to examine the impact that the trade unions and collective bargaining frameworks have had on McDonald's European operations. But we first begin by examining McDonald's experiences with unions 'at home' in North America and then in some other countries around the world.


McDonald's and the unions in North America

Union membership in the USA is reckoned to be the lowest in the Western world (Wheeler and McClendon, 1998). A review of industrial relations in the USA by Kochan and Weinstein (1994) revealed that historical hostility displayed by American employers towards unions has been actively reinforced by new trends in work reorganisation. Union density continues to decline in the USA together with a considerable investment in coercion against trade unionists, especially in the private sector. According to Kochan et al. (1984:18), union avoidance in the USA is deep rooted:

Many companies now make union avoidance or union containment a very high priority. The pluralistic assumptions of industrial relations researchers that independent worker organisations have a legitimate role seemingly are not shared by the majority of American employers.

Towers (1999a) suggests that most American employers resist union organisation because they regard unions as unacceptable restrictions on the

-85-

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Working for Mcdonald's in Europe: The Unequal Struggle?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Figures and Tables viii
  • 1 - Liberalism, Collectivism and the Multinational Corporation 1
  • 2 - Welcome to Big Mac 16
  • 3 - The Corporate Paradox 35
  • 4 - Mcdonald's at Work 56
  • 5 - 'there's No Place like Home' 85
  • 6 - Co-Determination? 119
  • 7 - For a Few Dollars More 150
  • 8 - Where's the Beef? 177
  • 9 - Conclusion 196
  • Appendix 215
  • Notes 223
  • References 226
  • Index 241
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