Like a scene out of the French revolution, activists seeking a higher minimum wage for fast food workers have stormed the Chicago-based headquarters of McDonald's. According to the Chicago Tribune, thousands are gathered between the Oakbrook, Ill.-based burger headquarters and a nearby McDonald's restaurant as part of a Fight for $15 protest. The restaurant had to be closed due to traffic concerns.
A stage is set and organizers are clear that they want a higher minimum wage of at least $15 per hour. Though Fight for $15 protests aren't new, today's is in anticipation of the burger chain's annual shareholder meeting, which is expected to take place tomorrow. McDonald's most recent response to Fight for $15 organizers — in which the company raised wages by about a dollar at a fraction of their restaurants — has done little to quell a year's worth of unrest.
In response to the protests, a McDonald's spokesperson told the Tribune: "[E]mployees at McDonald's-owned stores and those of its franchisees can rise to top management positions." And though McDonald's doesn't have the authority to raise the wages of workers at its franchised locations, the spokesperson noted "that [it's likely] franchisees will follow the company's lead and also raise wages of front-line workers."
That sounds like more than a hint of desperation from a company that has spent the last several years struggling under mounting pressures from the marketplace and sluggish sales. At the end of the day, McDonald's would have to re-write and re-negotiate its franchises or potentially subsidize worker wages in order to enact meaningful change for its labor force.
Meanwhile, American cities across the country are moving to mandate higher minimum wages without local business support. Yesterday, Los Angeles passed a somewhat controversial measure that requires LA-area businesses to raise their minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020.
An example of a real McDonald's worker 'a check as we begin the march to their shareholders meeting pic.twitter.com/n3Ebs5ucYM— Fight For 15 (@fightfor15) May 20, 2015