McDonald's workers descend on headquarters ahead of annual meeting

Wed May 21, 2014 10:04am EDT
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By Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) - Fast-food workers from three dozen U.S. cities on Wednesday will protest at the headquarters of McDonald's Corp (MCD.N: Quote), calling for a significant wage hike, as company shareholders also prepare to weigh in on the pay of the fast-food giant's top executives.

The latest, and possibly largest, protest against the global chain comes a day ahead of a shareholders vote on executive pay at McDonald's, where Chief Executive Don Thompson took home total compensation of $9.5 million in 2013.

Low-wage U.S. restaurant and retail workers are calling for a rough doubling of pay to $15 per hour and the right to unionize. Their frequent protests have helped fuel a national debate on income inequality at a time when many middle- to low-income Americans are struggling to make ends meet.

Jessica Davis, a 25-year-old McDonald's crew trainer with two children, said CEO Thompson is earning his millions on the backs of working mothers and fathers.

Davis, who works at a company-owned McDonald's in Chicago, says she earns $8.98 per hour and works part-time despite requests for more hours.

"We need to show McDonald's that we're serious and that we're not backing down," said Davis, who plans to join Wednesday's protest.

McDonald's, which is grappling with sagging U.S. sales and profit-crimping beef price spikes, does not disclose average pay for restaurant workers, most of whom work for McDonald's franchisees.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 3.5 million fast-food and counter workers in the United States earn a median hourly wage of $8.83, or almost $18,400 per year based on a 40-hour work week without vacation.   Continued...

A McDonald's restaurant sign is seen at a McDonald's restaurant in Del Mar, California April 16, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake