Less than 24 hours after 5,000 workers marched on McDonald’s corporate headquarters, the burger giant’s cooks and cashiers returned to Oak Brook Thursday morning to bring their call for $15 and union rights directly to the company’s shareholders at their annual meeting.
Armed with 1.4 million petition signatures from everyday Americans calling on the fast-food giant to pay $15 and respect workers’ right to form a union, the workers marched up to the gates of McDonald’s suburban campus outside of Chicago, chanting “We Believe That We Will Win” and “We Want Change And We Don’t Mean Pennies.”
The workers included groups from Minnesota organized by CTUL, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha/Center of Workers United in Struggle, and NOC, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change.
A delegation of workers wearing their company-issued uniforms continued onto the campus and brought boxloads of petitions directly to shareholders.
The signatures were gathered with support of partners including MoveOn.org, Credo Action, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, The Other 98%, SumOfUs, Daily Kos, Change.org, Brigade Team, and others. The petition reads: “For more than two years, fast-food cooks and cashiers have called for fair pay, and I stand with them. McDonald’s workers deserve $15 an hour and union rights. It’s time 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 Safiyyah Cotton, who traveled to Oak Brook from Philadelphia. Cotton, 22, lives with her sister to save money, and relies on food stamps and childcare subsidies to support her one-year-old son. “I often get sent home in the middle of my shift if the store isn’t busy enough. That makes it impossible to budget or plan childcare. And that’s why I traveled to Oak Brook: to let McDonald’s shareholders know that they should invest in workers, instead of further enriching wealthy executives and hedge fund managers.”
McDonald’s only response during the meeting to workers’ demand for $15 and union rights was that the company provides job opportunities for young people. But U.S. Census Bureau data show that 70% of fast-food workers are adults over the age of 20, more than one-third of those workers are raising children, and 37% have at least some college education.
“I’ve been working at McDonald’s for 32 years and am paid only $8.95 an hour,” said Felipe Mujita of Chicago. “McDonald’s workers aren’t kids working for pocket change – they are moms and dads.”
The petition delivery marked the culmination of two days of worker protests—the largest-ever demonstrations to hit the company’s shareholder meeting. On Wednesday, McDonald’s shut down its headquarters in anticipation of the thousands of workers, who showed up marching behind a giant banner that read, “McDonald’s: $15 and Union Rights, Not Food Stamps,” and chanting, “We Work, We Sweat, Put $15 in Our Check.” They were joined by ministers and faith leaders from across the country, who led a service calling on McDonald’s to do the right thing by paying workers $15 and respecting their right to join together in a union.