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US union tries to scotch McDonald’s deals abroad

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The union trying to organize McDonald’s workers in the United States is striving to gain leverage by bad-mouthing the chain to potential partners overseas.

The Service Employees International Union sent letters to parties that have been identified as potential buyers of McDonald’s restaurants in Asia. The communications urge the would-be franchisees to back away from deals because of the likelihood of financial problems down the road.

In particular, the letter warns that the royalties levied by McDonald’s tend to rise over time.

The communication did not say why the SEIU was interjecting itself into the considerations, or what was at stake for its constituents. 

The union is the major force behind the Fight for $15 campaign to raise minimum wages to $15 an hour. It has also organized walkouts and demonstrations at McDonald’s restaurants and other fast-food operations to call attention to workers’ conditions and wages.

McDonald’s has yet to respond publicly to the SEIU’s letter.

The chain is in the midst of a massive refranchising effort that calls in part for selling stores to potential new partners in China and South Korea. The U.S.-based franchisor is also seeking to sell a major stake in the operator of McDonald’s units in Japan.

Potential buyers include the Asian operations of the U.S. financier Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

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