McDonald's workers protest low wages, more than 100 arrested

Wed May 21, 2014 6:54pm EDT
 
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By Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) - More than 100 demonstrators seeking better pay for McDonald's workers were arrested on Wednesday as protesters swarmed the fast-food chain's corporate campus near Chicago demanding a minimum wage of $15 an hour and the right to unionize.

The protest against McDonald's Corp, the world's biggest restaurant operator by revenue, came a day before a shareholder vote on executive pay, including that of Chief Executive Don Thompson, who earned total compensation of $9.5 million in 2013.

Rallies by low-wage restaurant and retail workers have helped fuel a national debate on pay 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 Thompson was earning his millions on the backs of working mothers and fathers.

"We need to show McDonald's that we're serious and that we're not backing down," said Davis, who earns $8.98 per hour at a Chicago McDonald's.

McDonald's, which is grappling with sagging U.S. sales and higher beef prices, does not disclose average pay for restaurant workers, most of whom work for 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.

U.S. President Barack Obama has pushed Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from $7.25. Washington, D.C. and 21 states have minimum wages higher than the federal minimum.   Continued...

 
Demonstrators clash with police during a protest at the McDonald's headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, May 21, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young