By JoAnne Pow!ers, May 25, 2016
Fast food workers across Chicago walked off their jobs Wednesday afternoon, kicking off two days of protest culminating with thousands of low-wage workers marching on McDonald’s annual shareholder meeting in Oak Brook, Illinois. The workers are demanding fifteen dollars an hour and the right to unionize without retaliation. Strikers brought the lunchtime rush to a halt at the chain’s flagship Rock-and-Roll McDonald’s store.
George McCray is a Chicago MacDonald’s worker:
[George McCray]: “Just trying to get our message across. Get the power and the people out so that we can all get together and let MacDonald’s and the shareholder’s know that we will know longer accept these wages and conditions that we work under…and we still got work to do.
While MacDonald’s profits are soaring, its wages are so low workers are forced to rely on public assistance. Angel Mitchell has been working at McDonald’s on the Southeast side of Chicago for almost 4 years.
[Angel Mitchell]: “We are bringing the problems that we have with the corporation and other corporations like it to their doorstep, so they can’t ignore us. When they come to their shareholder meeting, we will be there. If you don’t want to hear our message on media, then we’ll bring it to you.”
Workers moved the protest to McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook Wednesday evening, planning an occupation and night-long encampment:
[George McCray]: “We will occupy the whole entire area. We need to be out there first so that we can be ready bright and early in the morning for the shareholder’s meeting. Seven, eight, nine, ten thousand people. Workers, just like myself. Different Fast food workers, employees from health care, child care, factory workers. It’ll be a lot of people out there. We all share the same common problem all over…different cities, different states.”
Adriana Alvarez, a six-year McDonald’s Worker from Cicero noted that workers are coming together worldwide behind the Fight for Fifteen:
[Adriana Alvarez]: “MacDonald’s is a global company, and we have people coming from around the world. From Europe, Argentina. When we share our stories with each other, we come to find out how they did it, how we can do it. And it’s not just fast food anymore. We have teachers striking with us, and airport workers. Airport jobs used to be good, and then these McJobs have taken their model of working, and it’s getting to the point where it’s ridiculous. We’re going to do whatever it takes to get to 15 and a union, which means camping out waiting for them to get there, making sure that they see us, making sure that they hear us, and let them know that we’re tired of their business model.”
Mitchell and the Fight for Fifteen vowed to continue with the strikes until their demands are met:
[Angel Mitchell]: “If we didn’t come in, open our doors, get up out of our beds…we have the people power…We know that there would be no MacDonald’s without its workers. I’m fighting for a living wage and union rights on a living planet. I’m not asking for anything more than what I feel is due to me, my co-workers and other fast food workers here in the U.S.”