witness statement

name: Brian Cunningham
section: Employment
for: The Defence
experience: Union organiser working with Michael Soriano


The exhibit provides support to the witnesses statement.


Not available for this witness

Full cv:
(not available for this witness)

full statement:

Now comes Brian Cunningham who being duly sworn upon his oath deposes and says:

I have been given assurances that the statement I am about to make will be held confidential unless I am called to testify at a hearing.

I have worked for McDonald's on Wabash since September 1977.

No Solicitation Rule

Mike Sorriano and myself were the ones to first contact the unions about organising the employees at McDonald's. We passed the authorisation cards and organised to pass out the cards etc.

On or about 23 January, after we had the cards to the union, we met for dinner with Josephine Clark, James Madison, and one other person to find out our rights. There were approximately 30 employees there.

On or about 24 January, Josephine clark asked McDonald's for recognition. That same evening at about 4:00 (I get off work at about 3:00) I was down in the crew room with Derrick Butler and Venus Collins. Field Supervisor Lee came downstairs and told me about the no solicitation policy and also said - "You know about the rule that people should leave as soon as they get dressed. You have been down here long enough, come on let's get going". Lee walked upstairs behind me and made sure I left. (Nothing has ever been said about leaving before. Example: Venus does not start work until 7:00 and she was there at at least 4:00 when I was escorted out).

I snuck back into McDonald's a little later. I went back down to the crew room and Mike Sorriano came down after he finshed work, I believe it was approximately 6:00. Venus Collins and Kathy Adams were also present. John ,Assistant Manager, came down and told him "We have a no solicitation rule, you will have to leave. You know the company has a no solicitation rule and you will have to leave". John escorted Mike out.

I left a few inutes later and met Mike outside.

We tried to get back into McDonald's and we were met by Tony Collins, he works in the dining room, and he told us that management had left word that if either me or Mike came back into the store he was supposed to let management know and we would be escorted out.

I have been escorted out about 3 more times by different managers since that first time.

Company Meeting

On or about January 29 1977 there was a meeting at McDonald's. Usually meetings are held at 8 or 8.30 in the evening only. This meeting you could either attend at 10am or 8pm. I had a lot of work so I was going to attend the 8:00 meeting. I was told by Booker Brown, Manager, that I was to attend the 10am meeting. He said "We are waiting on you". Booker escorted me to the meeting. James, a new manager sat next to me, watching my every move at the meeting.

At the meeting we were introduced to 2 men; Smitty ( a man who is supposed to come to new restaurants after 8 months) and James Morgan, the union expert who was brought in to talk to us. For the first 10 - 15 meetings Frankie Donikin asked some questions about the union that were too spontaneous and sounded very rehearsed and programmed.

Then a questionnaire segment opened where all empolyees could ask questions, which is very unusual at a company meeting. Morgan started speaking negatively about the union (as he did earlier) saying the people who passed out authorisation cards were paid, the union is a job but it doesn't have a product to sell, and I don't know about you but I miss the $20 they take out of my check etc.

He also said the union isn't going to do you any good because it still has to deal with us and we are going to take a tough and hard nosed postion.

Smitty took a survey at this meeting, nobody signed it. Questions on the survey were: e.g. "how do you feel about the pay scale, how do you feel about this or that policy".

Myself, Mike Sarrino, Shiela Nusson, Brenda Achive and Stanley Whitley talked with Smitty and Lee after the meeting and we told him some of the problems we were having. We told him how we would come back to work then be told they don't need us, it's not busy and we would not get reimbursed for our car fare. Everything we told him, Lee just acted shocked like he didn't know what was going on.

Subsequent Changes

Finally, Norman Donahue, Store Mananger, came upstairs. I left the group and talked to Donahue. I asked him about my hours. He said he would increase my hours and a couple of days later I did get my hours increased from 20 a week to 42 a week.

About a week after the meeting a lot of big shots from all over came down to the Wabash store. They started being real nice asking us how we were, what they could do to help etc.

Since November 1977 we have been asking for a basket ball team. About 2 weeks ago they told us we could have a team and they started asking us sizes for uniforms. They are also setting up a bowling team. McDonald's took us out about a week ago and paid for half of our expenses.

McDonald's also promised us a Christmas dance sometime in Dec. It kept getting postponed. We are now having the dance on Feb. 13 - dinner paid for by the company.

I have read the above statement and it is true to the best of my knowledge and belief.

date signed: Not dated
status: Did not appear in court
references: Not applicable/available

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