The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jack Temple,,Email:,

McDonald's Workers Take Call for $15/hr, Union Rights Directly to Company's Shareholders

 As Cooks, Cashiers March on Annual Investor Meeting, Workers in More Than One Dozen Cities Protest


Less than 24 hours after thousands of McDonald's cooks and cashiers surged through the rain-soaked streets of downtown Chicago, workers marched on the burger giant's headquarters Wednesday morning, taking their demand for $15 an hour and union rights directly to the company's shareholders.

Holding signs that read "McJobs Cost Us All," and chanting, "We Work, We Sweat, Put $15 in Our Check," cooks and cashiers called on the company to use its vast economic power to lift up working families across the economy rather than hold them down. As the cooks and cashiers pressed towards a police roadblock at the entrance to McDonald's suburban campus, company executives turned their backs on the workers and walked away. Hundreds of workers then marched forward to the barricade, where Oak Brook police threatened to arrest them. For more than an hour workers refused to move, chanting, "Hey McDonald's You Can't Hide, We Can See Your Greedy Side."

Simultaneously, workers in more than a dozen cities rallied at local McDonald's stores to support their coworkers marching in Oak Brook and echo their demand for $15 an hour and union rights--the first time protests coinciding with the annual shareholders meeting spread across the country.

"Many of us rely on public assistance to scrape by, even though we work for the world's second largest employer, and that's not right," said Richard Iker, a 47-year-old McDonald's worker from Kansas City, Mo who makes $11.17/hour. "We need $15 and hour and union rights and we're going to do whatever it takes to make sure our voices are heard."

Wednesday's protests follow a massive 'March on McDonald's' through downtown Chicago Tuesday led by the Fight for $15 and heavyweights from across the movement to resist President Trump's extremist agenda. Workers and resistance leaders including the Women's March, Our Revolution, the Movement for Black Lives, MoveOn, Color of Change, NextGen and othersmarched behind a giant banner reading, "McDonald's: The Donald Trump of Corporations," stressing the similarities between President Trump's and McDonald's record of wage theft, sexual harassment, tax dodging and firing people for speaking out.

The nationwide protests come as McDonald's grapples with widespread consumer rejection of its brand. In March, McDonald's executives announced the company has lost more than 500 million customers since 2012, the year cooks and cashiers at the fast-food giant first went on strike to demand $15 an hour and union rights.

"This year, shareholders may want to hear what McDonald's is doing to regain the 500 million customers it has lost since 2012," said Darius Cephas, a McDonald's worker who makes $12/hour. "The company should start by paying workers $15 and respecting our right to a union. Our customers believe workers should be paid decently and treated fairly and if McDonald's wants to win them back, it should pay us enough so we can support our families without relying on public assistance."

McDonald's faced intensified scrutiny in the U.S. and overseas ahead of the back-to-back protests. On Monday, former BlackRock executive Morris Pearl penned an open letter to McDonald's CEO, Steve Easterbrook, slamming McDonald's mistreatment of workers and calling on the company to pay $15 an hour and respect its workers' right to a union. As environmental justice leaders including NextGen, the Sierra Club and called on McDonald's to support sustainable, living wage jobs, a report released Tuesday by French NGO Zero Waste found that McDonald's produces more and more waste in France while it shows declining recycling rates, contrary to the environmental commitments the company has made.

In New York City, members of the City Council prepared for a vote Wednesday on a package of bills that would curb abusive scheduling practices by McDonald's and other fast-food chains and enable cooks and cashiers to establish their own self-funded organization. Fast-food workers in New York City are expected to rally Wednesday afternoon at City Hall to call on the Council to approve the bills.

Meanwhile, the protest outside the McDonald's shareholders meeting drew workers from across the service economy.

"I may be working in home care, but I get paid McWages," said Sherry Golden, a home care worker from St. Louis, Mo., who is paid just $11/hour."McDonald's way of doing business is copied all across the economy now. As long as McDonald's undercuts its workers, people across the economy will lose out. That's why I'm taking my fight for $15 and union rights to the company's doorstep."

Outside Oak Brook, McDonald's cooks and cashiers protested at McDonald's restaurants in Atlanta, Ga., Charleston, S.C., Denver, Colo., Durham, N.C., Greenville, N.C., Houston, Texas, Las Vegas. Nev., Los Angeles, Calif., Miami, Fla., Oakland, Calif., Sacramento, Calif., San Jose, Calif., and Tampa, Fla.

McDonald's workers weren't the only ones protesting in the Chicago area Wednesday. Hundreds of working people from O'Hare International Airport rallied with elected leaders and community supporters outside of United's shareholders meeting--with over a dozen engaging in non-violent civil disobedience. The workers called on the company to ensure its outsourced ramp workers, wheelchair attendants, cabin cleaners and other passenger service workers have good-paying jobs and union rights.

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.