While your own store might be excellent, not everyone's is. In the US, where McDonald's was founded and has its largest concentration... there are the most problems. Part of the issue is the continuing decline role or organized labor, and working conditions in general... though the tighter labor market may improve that. Still, many workers are still working minimum wage, part-time empoyment (with sometimes overtime houers), no health insurance, little control over scheduling, harassment, and safety concerns. While none of these might apply to your store, there is a trend throughout the industry. Where management can get away with some of these things, they do. Not all management mind you, but those who give up a little piece of their humanity for the greed of their bosses' bosses.
The media, particularly in the US is hardly supportive of Unions. They are as likely to follow the horse race of who wins the position of union boss and his campaign finance, than they are to cover the struggles of a small local business organizing. They often (and right to do so!) jump on the corruption within some unions, but ignore similar corruption (or exploitation) when done by the company.
Personally, I'd be very wary of any union that demands high dues from employees who are paid so little. However, a union isn't about dues... its about collective action. Any group of McDonald's could form their own independent union and take action. It could be something so simple as refusing to work overtime until a significant number of employees is hired.
I think if you believe writing letters to McDonald's corporate staff
will adequately address problems your having with your immeadiate management, then your being somewhat naive. If its an issue that might embarass the corporation to the public like sexual harassment or unsafe food prep then it will be addressed; however if its a question of insurance, wages, autonomy, whatever... especially if dealing with it cuts in to profit, the company isn't going to step in. Further, for franchises there is little power the company might have over its spawn.
Its not up to the Corp to get out bad operators, its up to the workers.
To depend on the corporation to improve your situation is very disempowering, and hardly what people who pride themselves on their freedom should do. Are your interests really the same as your employers? Certainly there are some that you share, but it doesn't change the fundamental one: your wage is inversly related to their profit.
Finally, I'd just like to remind our fellow workers in Europe... the US doesn't have many things you might take for granted. For many on the bottom rung of employment, health insurance is non-existant. Typical wage at McDonald's is under $6/hour. Schooling for a semster runs at about $1000, which a student might recieve a loan to aid with it. The dole (welfare) is being substantially rolled back in addition to a workfare program (In some cases, people earn less than $2/hour in terms of work for dole-social programs like medicare).
If we didn't really have a problem with the fast food industry, why would we complain about it? Are we just whiny with nothing better to do with our time? Anyway, the Mcspotlight has extensive information on McDonald's labor practices. If you haven't taken the time to read those sections, please do.