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Low Wage Fast Food Workers Begin 2 Days Of #FF15 Protests

By aaroncynic in News on May 23, 2017 6:57PM

Fast food workers demonstrate outside the new location of McDonald's corporate headquarters in the West Loop on May 23rd, 2017. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

Hundreds of low wage workers and others in support of higher minimum wages rallied outside the site of what will become the new corporate headquarters for McDonald’s on the near west side Tuesday morning, the first of several actions they’re planning over the next two days.

The demonstrations come ahead of McDonald’s annual shareholders meeting, which will take place at their current corporate headquarters in suburban Oak Brook. As they have done on an almost yearly basis since a nationwide push for a $15 minimum wage began, groups and organizations allied with the Fight For 15 movement are targeting the fast food giant for keeping wages for front line workers down while reaping billions in profits, along with a host of other alleged workplace and labor violations.

“We’re here at McDonald’s future HQ having our own personal groundbreaking ceremony for a McDonald’s we need,” said Ashley Bruce, a McDonald’s worker who currently makes $10.50 an hour. “We deserve a McDonald’s that cares about us and not just the money we make for them. We deserve a McDonald’s that will provide us with a living wage, respect in the stores, that’s going to stand up and against sexual harassment. This is a chance for McDonald’s to make that choice.”

The push for higher minimum wages nationwide has gained some victories in recent years. Organizers with Fight For 15 say they’ve helped spur wage hikes for 22 million workers totaling $62 billion. In addition, the constant pressure workers have put on both companies and lawmakers have helped secure $15 an hour minimum wages statewide in California and New York, along with cities like Washington D.C. and Seattle, among others. A city ordinance passed in 2014 raises the minimum wage in Chicago incrementally until it reaches $13 an hour in 2019. On July 1, the minimum wage will be $11 an hour.

Those successes however have been tempered slightly with the Trump administration, which has deep connections to big business and corporations and has been hostile to the labor movement. That's why organizers say they’ll march to Trump Tower Tuesday afternoon.

“Like Trump, McDonald’s faces widespread charges of stealing from workers’ paychecks, sexually harassing women, ripping off taxpayers, and firing people for speaking out,” organizers said in a statement. “Workers and leaders from across the progressive movement will stress that resistance to Trump’s agenda must include resistance to companies like McDonald’s that are “the Donald Trump of corporations.”

35th Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa speaks to fast food workers demonstrating for higher wages and union rights outside the site of McDonald's new corporate headquarters in the West Loop. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

Demonstrators were joined by 35th Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, who said that the corporate behemoth needs to pay its fair share in taxes, along with its workers fair wages so they don’t need to rely on public assistance.

“While you’re making minimum wage, you’re paying taxes,” said Rosa. “McDonald’s relies on $1 billion per year in welfare. Every single time the McDonald’s corporation fails to pay a worker a living wage, provide healthcare, provide childcare, fails to provide for the people that are making McDonald’s rich—who do they turn to? They turn to the taxpayers—they turn to you and say pay the bill....It is despicable, it is wrong that the McDonald’s corporation and it’s shareholders reap billions in profits while its workers have to go and apply for the LINK card, Medicaid, have to ask for help to feed their kids.”

A second, larger rally is scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon in Daley Plaza, which will then march to Trump Tower and later to the Rock and Roll McDonald's in River North. On Wednesday morning, groups also plan to hold protests beginning as early as 7:00 a.m. in Oak Brook.