Don't be surprised if you have to cross a picket line to get a Big Mac today: Tens of thousands of fast food workers will walk off the job today as part of global labor protests, and as one of the biggest and most influential companies in its sector, McDonald's is specifically being targeted.
Today marks the Fight for $15's biggest strike ever, with picketing planned for 300 cities; widespread organized protests on or around Tax Day have become an annual occurrence for the labor movement, which originally began in 2012 with a small group of fast food workers. California and New York have both recently approved a statewide $15 minimum wage, and so has the city of Seattle, but for the rest of the nation the fight continues; the Washington Post notes workers in Cleveland, New Jersey, and Montgomery County, Maryland in particular are demanding similar wage increases.
The Fight for $15 movement has steadily ramped up its protests during the presidential campaigns, picketing outside both Republican and Democratic debates to draw attention to its cause. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been vocal supporters of the movement; Clinton supports a $12 federal minimum wage, while Sanders advocates $15 for all. McDonald's has staunchly fought back against the labor movement, even suing the city of Seattle in an attempt to defeat the city's minimum wage increase.
Many business owners have argued that higher minimum wage could have disastrous effects on their business: A White Castle executive recently stated that a $15 minimum wage in New York could have "catastrophic" effects on the company and cause menu prices to surge by 50 percent. Meanwhile, a recent study by Purdue University indicates that such wage hikes would spur a 4.3 percent increase in menu prices. A 2014 study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute indicated that 40 percent of U.S. restaurant workers live in poverty.