The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

10,000 Underpaid Workers to Flood McDonald's Shareholder Meeting Demanding $15, Union Rights

Biggest-Ever Series of Protests at Golden Arches’ HQ to Kick Off with Strike by Chicago Fast-Food Workers

Oak Brook, Ill.

Fast-food, home care, child care, and other underpaid workers from across the country who are fighting for $15/hour and union rights will flood McDonald's headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill. this week, waging the biggest-ever series of strikes and protests to hit the company's annual shareholder meeting.

A wave of actions will kick off Wednesday with a strike at the flagship Rock N Roll McDonald's in Downtown Chicago. Striking cooks and cashiers will then join a record 10,000 underpaid workers from across the country for a massive march on McDonald's headquarters in Oak Brook Wednesday afternoon. Thousands of workers will return Thursday to march directly on the company's shareholder meeting.

Fast-food workers will be joined by home care, child care, airport, higher education and other workers to underscore that McDonald's low pay hurts workers across the entire economy.

Wednesday, May 25

11:30 am CT Strike | Rock N Roll McDonald's, 600 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60610

Massive strike at McDonald's flagship store in Downtown Chicago. Striking Chicago fast-food workers available for interview.

5:00 pm CT Protest | 22nd Street and Jorie Blvd., Oak Brook, IL, 60523 (Media can park at 2111 McDonald's Dr.)

10,000 underpaid workers march on McDonald's HQ in Oak Brook.

Thursday, May 26

6am CT Rally | McDonald's Headquarters 2111 McDonald's Dr.

7 am CT March and Protest | Jorie Blvd & Forest Gate Drive, Oak Brook IL, 60523

Thousands of underpaid workers march on McDonald's shareholder meeting.

Workers will stress that while McDonald's stock just hit an all-time high, the $5 billion fast-food giant still pays wages so low that its workers are forced to rely on public assistance to scrape by. Underpaid workers from across the service sector - joined by McDonald's workers from five countries spanning three continents - will demand that McDonald's use its global economic footprint to lift up working families across the economy rather than hold them down.

As McDonald's faces louder calls from workers across the U.S. demanding higher pay and the right to a union, the company is also coming under fire from regulators and elected officials worldwide over a range of harmful business practices, including tax avoidance, labor violations, and anti-competitive practices.

In April, the French government sent a letter to McDonald's demanding the company pay back EUR300 million ($340 million) in unpaid taxes and fines as a result of a scheme that funneled royalties through Luxembourg. Late last year the European Commission opened an investigation into McDonald's over allegations the company avoided more than EUR1 billion in taxes via the same Luxembourg machinations.

Earlier this year, Spanish tax authorities opened a criminal investigation into McDonald's tax avoidance, and leading consumer rights advocates and NGOs petitioned Italy's top tax authorities late last year to investigate McDonald's over allegations that the fast-food giant has dodged at least EUR74 million ($84 million) in taxes owed to Italy since 2009.

In January, Italian consumer groups filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission, alleging exorbitant rents and onerous contracts thrust upon franchisees give the company an unfair advantage. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom - the home of turf of CEO Steve Easterbrook - McDonald's is facing more scrutiny than ever before. In April, Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn announced his party's support for a global campaign to hold McDonald's accountable, saying, "We will extend that campaign all across this continent." Also last month, Labour Party leaders barred McDonald's from sponsoring its party's convention because of the company's unfair treatment of workers. Worker protests in the UK forced McDonald's to abandon its controversial zero-hours scheduling policy in which workers are required to be available to work all the time, but receive no set hours.

In March, Brazilian prosecutors launched an investigation of alleged "fiscal and economic crimes" committed by McDonald's, including suspected tax avoidance and violations of Brazil's franchise and competition laws. As McDonald's looks to sell or refranchise thousands of company-owned stores worldwide, the Change to Win Investment group sent a letter to McDonald's Board of Directors earlier this month expressing concern over flagging sales and poor corporate governance by the company's master franchisor in Latin America, Arcos Dorados.

Fast food workers are coming together all over the country to fight for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. We work for corporations that are making tremendous profits, but do not pay employees enough to support our families and to cover basic needs like food, health care, rent and transportation.