Barbara Johnson

Barbara Johnson

McDonald’s demands uniformity: Every fry is the same. Barbara Johnson, 19, ensured that when she worked at a St. Louis store, earning $8.25 an hour. But the job can be a crapshoot. The company has strict uniform rules, but gives a single shirt. If Johnson put hers in the tub to wash, she cursed herself: “The next morning I get up and it’s not dry.” Wednesdays, she got the schedule. Sometimes her hours were cut from 40 to 30 per week. “I got to make sure I can pay my bills,” she gasped. Another variable: her manager. He said how nice she looked in her uniform, how it fit so good in all the right places. But when “he walked up and grabbed my breasts,” she said, “I couldn’t take it no more. I knew what would happen the next time.” Fast food is not a job you choose. “It has been a job that you have to take,” she said.  The pay and treatment are hard. And not just for her. She decided to become a leader with Fight for $15, filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and on September 18, 2018, helped lead a national walkout protesting sexual harassment.  Speaking out “lifted some weight off my shoulders,” she said. “It released some stress.”

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