McDonald's (103028)

The Fight for $15 is global. Brazil demonstrated that fact last week.

Brazilian leaders called for a major investigation into McDonald’s, citing a pattern of what they felt was illegal behavior undercutting Brazil’s workers and economy. Leonardo Mendoca, a labor prosecutor in Brazil, announced a task force that will investigate allegations of labor law violations by McDonald’s throughout their country. Any findings could find the fast-food giant in breach of a national accord it signed in 2013, where they pledged to respect Brazil’s labor laws.

“McDonald’s is one of the most recognized brands around the world, and this hearing makes clear that its corrosive business model spans the globe as well,” said Sen. Paulo Paim, chairman of the Human Rights and Participative Legislation Committee in the Brazilian Federal Senate, in a statement. “Brazil can be the country that leads the way in holding this company accountable. Let this hearing mark a moment where governments around the world join together to demand that global companies like McDonald’s do better by workers and the public as a whole.” Paim called the hearing last week.

Members of Brazil’s Congress Carlos Zarattini and Antonio Carlos Mendes Thame spoke in favor of reopening the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into slave labor to investigate the alleged poor working conditions at McDonald’s.

The hearing drew attendees from 20 different countries, with the Fight for $15’s global campaign to make McDonald’s accountable for working conditions reaching a fever pitch. There was testimony on the alleged mistreatment of workers around the world, including working violations, low wages, tax avoidance and alleged abusive business practices.

“The verdict of today’s hearing is clear: No company is more responsible than McDonald’s for driving a global race to the bottom,” said Scott Courtney, assistant to the president at the Service Employees International Union, in a statement. “McDonald’s has pioneered and perfected a brand of ‘cannibal capitalism’ that chews up and spits out the very people and communities that it needs in order to be successful in the long term. It is unsustainable from a business perspective, but more importantly it is morally wrong.”

The fight for workers’ rights and a living wage started in New York, but it has spread nationally and globally. In late July, the New York State Wage Board recommended to Gov. Andrew Cuomo that the state raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $15.