McDonald’s protesters chanting "show me 15" descended on the fast-food giant’s headquarters Thursday to demand higher pay, the latest showdown in a four-year battle emboldened by minimum-wage victories in California and New York.
After camping out overnight outside of McDonald’s offices in Oak Brook, Illinois, demonstrators gathered to picket the company’s annual shareholder meeting. There were about 2,000 protesters on Wednesday and 1,000 on Thursday at the company’s headquarters buildings, according to the Oak Brook Police Department. Organisers said that several thousand fast-food, home-care and child-care workers from across the US demonstrated.
The protests highlight the wage pressure facing the world’s largest restaurant chain. Advocates are lobbying for a minimum wage of $15 an hour, and they’ve already had success getting California and New York legislators to raise pay to that level in coming years. The protesters, funded by the Service Employees International Union, also are pressuring the company to let restaurant workers unionize.
“We’re coming to McDonald’s doorstep to tell the company and its shareholders it’s time workers shared in the company’s good fortune,” Angel Mitchell, a McDonald’s worker from Chicago, said in a statement from protest organizers. “We can’t wait any longer for $15/hour and union rights, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure our voices are heard.”
In preparation for the disruptions, McDonald’s corporate employees were told to work from home on Wednesday and Thursday.
“We take seriously our role in helping strengthen communities,” McDonald’s spokeswoman Lisa McComb said in response to the demonstrations. “Every year, we and our franchisees separately employ hundreds of thousands of people, providing many with their very first job.”
Coping with labor costs will remain a challenge as McDonald’s executes a comeback under Chief Executive Officer Steve Easterbrook. The company has reignited sales growth in the U.S. with all-day breakfast and value deals, such as offering two sandwiches for $5. Same-store sales rose 6.2 percent globally in the latest quarter.