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Thousands Protest For Higher Wages At McDonald's Company Shareholder Meeting

By aaroncynic in News on May 22, 2014 6:00PM

More than 100 McDonald’s employees and a few dozen other community supporters were arrested at a sit-in near the company’s sprawling Hamburger University campus yesterday as part of another demonstration to raise the minimum wage. The protest, organized by the Workers Organized Committee of Chicago (WOCC), was held on the eve of the company’s shareholder meeting, just a week after the fast food giant was the centerpiece of a global strike calling for higher wages and the right for workers to unionize without retaliation.

After marching from a nearby park to the entrance of McDonald’s training facility, the mass of well more than a thousand demonstrators were greeted at the gates by both local and state police, clad in full riot gear. The fast food giant shut down its corporate headquarters earlier that morning, the original site of the rally, due to the protest. According to the AP, McDonald’s told its employees to work from home for the day.

“If McDonald’s did what was fair, paid their workers $15 an hour for 40 hours a week, that’s enough income for the workers to survive on,” said Nick, a McDonald’s employee from Indianapolis who was later arrested. Workers and their supporters came from nearly three dozen cities for the protest. “Why should we have to struggle when we’re doing work for them?”

Members and supporters of the movement, commonly called Fight For 15, say that McDonald’s, which raked in $5.6 billion last year and gave its CEO $9.5 million, can afford to pay its front line workers a fair wage. “It’s not okay for McDonald’s to rake in huge profits but pay us so little we can't support our families,” said Cherri Delisline, a mother of four from Charleston, South Carolina. As demonstrators sat on the pavement at the entrance of the campus, Rev. Dr. William Barber II, head of the North Carolina NAACP and leader of the ‘Moral Monday’ movement, prayed on a bullhorn. “We know that you will use these actions to turn the hearts of corporations to bring people to the negotiating table. We’re only asking for what is right and what is just,” said Barber.

Just prior to being arrested for the first time, Ashley, a mother of two from Indianapolis said that she chose to participate in the action for struggling workers like her: “We need to fight for everybody and I feel like nobody is really fighting for us. I need to fight for my kids too. We need $15. $7.25? I can’t even pay half my bills,” she said.

The protests continued this morning outside the company’s headquarters. The Sun-Times reports a few hundred demonstrators began a rally at the same site where the arrests were made yesterday, before moving to Ronald Lane. According to the Miami Herald, CEO Don Thompson only addresses the protests by saying “We believe we pay fair and competitive wages.”

Outside, Shawn Dalton, a 59-year-old mother of a recent high school graduate who traveled from Pennsylvania, said that her daughter, who cannot afford to attend college immediately may very well end up making the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. "That won't get her an apartment, that won't buy a bus pass, that won't buy food,” said Dalton." She'll either have to depend on welfare or depend on me.