'We Will Win': McDonald's Worker Protests Stretch Into Second Day
Less than 24 hours after 5,000 workers marched on McDonald’s corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, the fast food giant’s cooks and cashiers returned on Thursday morning to bring their call for $15 an hour and union rights directly to the company’s shareholders at their annual meeting.
Chanting “We believe that we will win” and “We want change and we don’t mean pennies,” an estimated 3,000 workers gathered for the second day of protests on Thursday. A handful of those worker-activists—wearing their company uniforms—were permitted through a barricade in order to deliver a petition, bearing 1.4 million signatures, that calls on McDonald’s to “pay your people enough to survive.”
“It’s impossible to provide any stability for my son on the $7.50 an hour McDonald’s pays me,” said 22-year-old Safiyyah Cotton, who traveled to Oak Brook from Philadelphia. Cotton, who lives with her sister to save money, and relies on food stamps and childcare subsidies to support her one-year-old son, said she is often “sent home in the middle of my shift if the store isn’t busy enough,” which makes it “impossible to budget or plan childcare.”
“That’s why I traveled to Oak Brook,” Cotton declared, “to let McDonald’s shareholders know that they should invest in workers, instead of further enriching wealthy executives and hedge fund managers.”
This week’s Fight for $15 actions come amidst growing momentum for higher pay, and in the wake of the largest-ever strike to hit the fast-food industry. As they put it in a press release, workers and union supporters are fed up with pay that drives them to rely on public assistance, angry over the company’s springtime “publicity stunt disguised as a wage increase,” and emboldened by recent moves by elected leaders in New York and Los Angeles to raise pay to as high as $15.
To that end, this year’s demonstration was double the size of the one that took place last year.
Among other grievances, organizers this week seized on recent revelations 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 while exacerbating inequality.
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