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McDonald's Claims It's a 'Victim,' Takes No Responsibility for Paying Workers Low Wages

This fight is getting nasty.

John Moore/Getty Images

McDonald's may soon give the world all-day breakfast, but they really really don't want to have to pay their employees more. According to the Wall Street Journal, the chain is fighting a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that says the corporation can be held liable for the working conditions — such as low wages — at any of its restaurants, including those owned by franchisees.

America's biggest burger chain has long argued that they should not be held accountable for the hourly paychecks set by franchise owners because "they are not the ‘direct' employer of those workers." The NLRB disagreed however and proceeded to file more than a dozen complaints against McDonald's for violating the rights of employees that chose to participate in strikes for higher wages. The agency accused the chain of threatening employees who communicated with union representatives, cutting their hours, and even firing certain workers.

However, McDonald's claimed in a hearing Monday that it is a "victim of a union-orchestrated attack on its brand." The chain is now asking for the names of "current and former employees" that spoke with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), its allies, and for "the content of those conversations" because the company needs "to know more about the motives" behind the attacks. The Chicago Tribune notes that a lawyer for the Golden Arches "acknowledged that McDonald's and its franchisees coordinated a response to demonstrations by workers around the country calling for higher minimum wages," but that the company was just defending themselves from "relentless attacks."

The Service Employees International Union argues that McDonald's is not the victim, but the employees, and that the chain doesn't "have a right to those documents." David Dean, a member of SEIU's legal team, said that this move shows McDonald's "involving themselves intimately in labor relations at their franchise stores," something the chain claims it does not do. They believe that this is further proof that McDonald's is guilty of the labor violation claims it has been charged with. It could be months before a judge makes a ruling on the case.