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Judge: Restaurant used pandemic to oust union organizers

December 31, 2021 GMT

DARIEN, Conn. (AP) — An administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that the owner of a Connecticut McDonald’s franchise violated labor laws by failing to return four union organizers to their jobs after a pandemic-related layoff.

Administrative Law Judge Donna N. Dawson on Thursday ordered Michell Enterprises to rehire the workers and provide them back pay and any expenses related to job searches they conducted while out of work.

The four, along with several coworkers, were laid off when the McDonald’s at a service plaza on Interstate 95 in Darien shut down in March 2020.

Dawson found that when the store reopened in May 2020, managers rehired or attempted to rehire all other workers, and subsequently hired three new employees. But the four union organizers were not called back.

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“This decision lays bare the way that McDonald’s and other fast food outlets have used the pandemic as cover to attack fair pay, basic benefits, and workers’ protected right to form a union,” said Rochelle Palache, vice president of the Service Employees International Union local that filed the charges.

Messages seeking comment were left Friday with McDonald’s and a lawyer for Michell Enterprises.