May 19, 2021
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined McDonald's employees via a livestream on Wednesday as workers across the U.S. staged a strike to protest what Sanders called "starvation wages" at one of the world's largest fast food chains.
Workers at McDonald's stores in 15 cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Kansas City, and Detroit organized "Walkout Wednesday" with the national advocacy group Fight for $15. In addition to the strike, public actions are taking place in dozens of cities and workers and supporters rallying outside McDonald's corporate headquarters in Chicago ahead of the company's annual shareholder's meeting.
"When working people stand together, they cannot be defeated," Sanders toldBusiness Insider on Tuesday. "I'm proud to join courageous workers who are taking on corporate greed and demanding dignity on the job."
The strike comes a month after McDonald's announced it would raise its minimum wages at corporate-owned stores, affecting only 5% of its restaurants in the U.S. where entry-level workers on average make $11 per hour while shift managers make $15 per hour.
"If you want to look like you're raising your wages to $15 per hour then you should actually raise them to $15 per hour for every McDonald's worker in this country, minimum," said Ocasio-Cortez in a live video broadcast on social media Wednesday as the workers walked out. "The U.S. Congress is not being tricked or duped into thinking they've raised the wage."
Watch the livestream of Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders, and other advocates speaking about the need for a living wage for all workers:
\u201cLIVE: Fast food workers in the #FightFor15 are ON STRIKE and are joined by Sen. @BernieSanders and Rep. @AOC to talk about the need for @McDonalds to provide a $15/hr floor for every one in their stores and organizing for fair pay and respect on the job!\n https://t.co/I0aCliGP3Q\u201d— Fight For 15 (@Fight For 15) 1621440102
"Tomorrow will be the shareholders' meeting where a bunch of millionaires come together to discuss how they'll distribute their profit," said Nashon Blount, an employee based in Durham, North Carolina. "We're here to let you know today, McDonald's, we are your profit. We are the ones who make the burgers, make the fries and everything inside the store, so it is not right that we get paid so little."
\u201cNashon Blount, @McDonalds worker in Durham NC, is absolutely right: \ud83c\udfaf McD's needs to pay us $15/hr NOW, not distribute their millions of profits to shareholders at tomorrow's annual meeting. We're fighting, we're marching, and WE WILL WIN. #Fightfor15 #Unionsforall\u201d— Union of Southern Service Workers (@Union of Southern Service Workers) 1621438229
A spokesperson for McDonald's toldBusiness Insider Tuesday that "it's the responsibility of federal and local government to set minimum wage," drawing rebukes from the Fight for $15 movement and workers.
"McDonald's doesn't have to wait for Congress to pass $15," said Fight for $15. "Even in 2020, the height of the recession, the company pulled in nearly $5 billion in profit and paid out billions to shareholders. No employer needs to wait for Congress to raise the minimum wage to pay fairly."
As the employees went on strike, Sanders shared a video on social media detailing fast food workers' years-long leadership in pushing for a higher federal minimum wage.
\u201cIf McDonald's can afford to pay its CEO over $10 million in compensation and spend billions on stock buybacks to award its wealthy shareholders and executives, you know what? It can afford to pay all of its workers at least $15 an hour. I'm proud to support the workers on strike.\u201d— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders) 1621436280
Other progressive advocates expressed their support for Walkout Wednesday on social media.
\u201cMinimum wage: \n\ud83c\udde9\ud83c\uddf0Denmark: $22/hr\n\ud83c\udde6\ud83c\uddfaAustralia: $12.14/hr\n\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8United States: $7.25/hr\n\nPrice of a Big Mac:\n\ud83c\udf54Denmark: $5.93\n\ud83c\udf54Australia: $4.30\n\ud83c\udf54United States: $5.66\n\n@McDonalds can afford to pay its workers a living wage. Don\u2019t believe the propaganda.\n\n#FightFor15 \u270a\ud83c\udffe\u201d— Nina Turner (@Nina Turner) 1621433891
\u201cQ: How shitty is Pennsylvania\u2019s + our nation\u2019s minimum wage? \n\nA: Real shitty. \n\n$15 hr is the floor. $31,000 a year to take care of you and your family is the *minimum dignity* every worker deserves. \u270a\ud83c\udfff\u270a\ud83c\udffe\u270a\ud83c\udffd\u270a\ud83c\udffc\u270a\ud83c\udffb\n\n#RaiseTheWage #FightFor15 \nhttps://t.co/3qO1A0OEdc\u201d— John Fetterman (@John Fetterman) 1621429214
\u201cMcDonald\u2019s announced they\u2019re raising average pay to $15/hr by 2024, but only in corporate-owned locations...95% of their stores are franchises \ud83e\udd14\n\nWorkers are striking May 19 to demand $15/hr for EVERY @McDonalds worker, waaaay past time to #FightFor15\u201d— Sunrise Movement \ud83c\udf05 (@Sunrise Movement \ud83c\udf05) 1620922619
\u201cSolidarity with McDonald's employees today as they strike for every worker to earn $15/hour.\n\n@McDonalds doesn't have to wait for Congress to take action, they can pay their employees at least $15/hour now.\n\n#FightFor15\u201d— Patriotic Millionaires (@Patriotic Millionaires) 1621436825
In the livestreamed event, Ocasio-Cortez credited grassroots organizers with continuing to push for fair wages and pressuring lawmakers to ensure legislation raising the minimum wage is passed.
\u201c"Because you're organizing on the outside, they can't ignore us on the inside.\n\nWe're going to keep going until not only we get a $15 minimum wage, we're going to keep going until you get a union... let's keep it going!" @AOC to striking @McDonalds workers #FightFor15\u201d— Fight For 15 (@Fight For 15) 1621441338
"Without your strikes, without your organizing, without you speaking up and doing what you're doing today, we cannot push for it," said Ocasio-Cortez. "It is because you are out there mobilizing that we can point to that organizing and say, this is how bad the people want it. This is what they are in fact demanding."
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