Decrying Corporate Greed, McDonald's Cooks and Cashiers Confront Shareholders

Calling for higher wages and fairer treatment, McDonald’s cooks and cashiers will gather with progressive leaders on Wednesday and Thursday for large protests outside the company’s shareholder meeting in Oak Brook, Illinois.

The two-day demonstration comes in the aftermath of the largest-ever strike to hit the fast-food industry—a 236-city walkout that included strikes and protests in 40 countries and 100 cities around the globe, from Amsterdam to Zurich—and just one day after the Los Angeles city council overwhelmingly passed its own minimum wage hike.

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“It’s time McDonald’s face the people who fry its fries and serve its customers but who are forced to pay for groceries with food stamps because McDonald’s does not pay them enough to feed their families.”
—Christine Owens, National Employment Law Project

On Monday, Common Dreams reported that the fast food giant, which is struggling in the face of slumping sales, said it would ban all media from the corporate event—a move that union leaders called “extremely shocking and troubling.”

The company is right to anticipate bad publicity over the next two days.

Last year, according to the Chicago Tribune, about 500 workers and community activists staged peaceful protests at the McDonald’s annual meeting. On the first day, 138 people were arrested, including 101 workers, for trespassing.

This year’s action is supposed to be even bigger.

“The anticipated jump in numbers reflects the growth of the movement and the expansion of the strategy during this past year,” David Moberg writes at In These Times. “The movement has stirred up interest among workers far beyond fast foods, including student workers, adjunct teachers and retail workers. The number of people taking part in the national protests/strikes have grown as well.”

Moberg adds: “But at the same time, the movement has focused very intently on one company, McDonald’s, since it is the biggest fast-food franchise company in the world and helps set global patterns. If the movement, primarily funded and initiated by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), can win victories with the industry leader, it may be somewhat easier to win the same changes at other companies.”