Thousands of Cooks and Cashiers To Wage Largest-Ever Protest at McDonald’s Shareholder Meeting

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Jack Temple, Jack.Temple@berlinrosen.com, (646) 200-5280

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Thousands of Cooks and Cashiers To Wage Largest-Ever Protest at McDonald’s Shareholder Meeting

Oak Brook, Ill. - McDonald’s workers Wednesday and Thursday will wage the largest protests to ever hit the company’s shareholder meeting. Joined by other fast-food cooks and cashiers and clergy from across the country, the workers will call on McDonald’s to invest in the company and its workers, not wealthy hedge fund executives. The protest comes just days after a paper in the Harvard Business Review detailed nearly $30 billion McDonald’s has spent on share buybacks in the last decade, money that could have been spent to raise workers’ wages.

Wednesday, May 20 at 12:00 pm CT

What: Day 1 of Protests

Who: McDonald’s workers

  • Mary Kay Henry, president of Service Employees International Union
  • Rev. William Barber II, convener of the Moral Mondays movement and pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, NC
  • Rev. Marilyn Pagán Banks of North Side Power/A Just Harvest in Chicago, Ill.
  • Rev. Rodney E. Williams of the Swope Parkway United Christian Church in Kansas City, MO

Where: McDonald’s Corporate Headquarters, 2111 McDonald’s Drive, Oak Brook, IL 60523

Thursday, May 21 at 7:00 am CT

What: Day 2 of Protests

Who: McDonald’s workers, other fast-food workers, clergy

Where: Corner of Jorie Blvd & Forest Gate Drive, Oak Brook Ill.

Background

McDonald’s shareholder meeting comes in the aftermath of the largest-ever strike to hit the fast-food industry—a 236-city walkout in every corner of the United States that included strikes and protests in 40 countries and 100 cities around the globe, from Amsterdam to Zurich.

In addition to strikes and slumping sales, McDonald’s approaches its annual meeting facing a host of business challenges at home and abroad.

In the United States, the federal government is accusing the fast-food giant of rampant labor-law violations, and is arguing that the corporate parent, not just franchisees, are responsible for the illegal actions. McDonald’s workers in three states filed class action lawsuits alleging wage theft and cooks and cashiers filed a federal civil rights suit alleging rampant racial discrimination at stores in Virginia. Workers also filed more than two-dozen complaints in 19 cities with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleging McDonald’s workers are being burned on the job, with many told to use condiments like mustard to ease the pain. Meanwhile, scrutiny is increasing on the public cost of the company’s low wages.

Last week, in the Harvard Business Review, University of Massachusetts Lowell Economist William Lazonick wrote that McDonald’s has spent nearly $30 billion on share buybacks in the last decade, enriching investors and executives at the expense of workers and franchisees and exacerbating inequality. And earlier this week, the Service Employees International Union petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to launch an investigation into the nation’s $800 billion franchise industry, calling the dramatic imbalance of power between franchisors and franchisees, “abusive and predatory.”

Overseas, McDonald's is being accused by a coalition of trade unions and the UK-based NGO War on Want of avoiding more than €1 billion in taxes over the last five years. The European Commission’s Directorate of Competition launched a preliminary investigation to find out whether McDonald’s entered into an illegal deal with Luxembourg that allowed it to avoid taxes.

In Brazil, a coalition of trade unions has filed two lawsuits accusing the company of widespread and systematic labor and health and safety violations. One of the suits accuses McDonald’s of “social dumping,” an anti-competitive practice that drives standards down for workers across the country, and seeks to prevent the company from opening new stores unless it complies with Brazilian law. Also, McDonald’s agent in Latin America and the Caribbean, Arcos Dorados, has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, with an investor group asking the New York Stock Exchange to review the company’s corporate governance. And in Japan, an investor group is calling on McDonald’s Japan to dismiss internal directors and replace them with external ones.

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