McDonald’s Workers and Supporters Protest Shareholder Meeting, Call for $15 / Hour and Right to Form a Union Without Intimidation
Following Strikes, Workers From Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee and St. Louis Converge to Ask Shareholders for Decent Pay to Support Their Families
CHICAGO - McDonald’s shareholders were greeted at the company’s annual conference Thursday by a hundred workers and supporters calling for decent wages to support their families, and the right to form a union without interference.
Workers who had participated in recent unprecedented fast food and retail strikes in Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee and St. Louis converged outside the meeting on the McDonald’s corporate campus in Oak Brook, IL, welcoming shareholders with chants and rally speeches.
"We're here to deliver a message," said Victor Guzman, a McDonald's worker and member of the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago. "We've delivered it by marching, we've delivered it by going on strike, and now we're delivering it directly to the shareholders. We demand $15 and the right to organize a union without retaliation."
Earlier in the morning, the workers and community supporters gathered outside the flagship Rock N Roll McDonald’s in downtown Chicago in a pre-meeting protest and rally.
"I stand on my feet all day making food for other people to eat, but I have to use food stamps to feed my kids," said McDonald's worker Norma Marin, as a drive-through customer honked his horn in support of protesting workers. "We make billions of dollars for McDonald's each year. I'm here because I deserve to make enough to feed my family."
Workers at both rallies pointed to McDonald’s $5.5 billion in annual profits and its CEO pay rate—roughly 500 times that of the average front-line worker—as indications that the fast food giant could easily afford to pay them a living wage.
Community supporters also spoke out, calling upon shareholders to examine the widespread consequences of underpaying fast food workers. “When you understand the connection between low wages and human suffering, then you have a moral obligation to take a stand,” said Rev. Liz Munoz. “It’s not limited to one worker or even just that worker’s family—though that is reason enough to act. It hurts entire neighborhoods.”
McDonald’s workers—like many fast food and retail employees—are often forced to depend upon food stamps or other forms of public assistance to meet their basic needs for food, shelter and clothing. Workers point out that they would spend any wage increase they receive on necessities, and help lift up the economy for everyone in the process.
"There's a problem in the economy when people can only afford things that cost 99 cents,” said Katelyn Johnson, executive director of Action Now. “McDonald's just announced it was ending sales of its Angus burger, which cost between $4 and $5. This should come as no surprise. If McDonald's and other big companies paid their workers more, they'd spend more and be able to afford the very products these corporations are hawking. Henry Ford knew this, but McDonald's and other big fast food companies don't seem to get it."