Protestors Plan Demonstration Outside of McDonald's Annual Shareholder Meeting

May 20th 2015

Laura Donovan

The Fight for $15, which organized nationwide protests over the minimum wage last month, plans to protest outside of McDonald's annual shareholder meeting on Thursday at the company's Oak Brook, Ill., headquarters. The Fight for $15 predicts that it will be the "biggest protest ever to hit the company’s annual shareholder meeting." The group will present McDonald's with a million signatures calling for both a raise of the company's minimum wage to $15 an hour and support for an employee union.

The Guardian reported Tuesday that McDonald's will not allow media access to the shareholder meeting, a rare move for a public company as large as McDonald's.

“Obviously many companies would like to keep such controversies under wraps," Timothy Smith, an executive at McDonald's-investor Walden Asset Management, told The Guardian. "Since McDonald’s proudly declares it believes it must be accountable to consumers, employees and the public as well as shareholders, it is surprising that they wish to hold their annual meeting in secret without press allowed to observe.”

It's not just the protests causing tension.

With its sales falling and its stock sinking, McDonald's recently announced a restructuring plan that will shift 36,000 company-owned stores to franchisees. McDonald's hopes the changes will save the corporation $300 million a year.

“No business or brand has the divine right to succeed,” CEO Steve Easterbrook said at the time. “The reality is, our recent performance has been poor. The numbers don’t lie ... It is customers that decide if we succeed. The message is clear. We are not on our game."

Easterbook took over as CEO earlier this year after the ouster of his predecessor, Don Thompson.

Why McDonald's recent pay increase isn't sufficient for workers.

At the beginning of April, McDonald's announced that it would raise wages at company-owned stores to at least one dollar above the local minimum wage. That increase will boost the company's average pay from $9 an hour to $9.90 an hour for 90,000 workers in the U.S.

Christine Owens, Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project, said in a statement that the jump in pay wasn't enough because it does not include the vast majority of McDonald's workers employed by franchisees.

"McDonald’s action falls far short of what is needed to make sure fast food jobs provide a decent living for the men and women who work in them," Owens said. "It leaves out hundreds of thousands of McDonald’s workers at franchises, most of whom are adults and many of whom are trying to support families on poverty wages and inadequate hours."

At the Fight for $15 rally in Los Angeles last month, ATTN: spoke with 22-year-old McDonald's worker Jibri Range, who has repeatedly been refused an increase in pay.

"It's been all hard work, and I feel like I have to walk on pins and needles just to prove to them that I'm worth [higher wages]. They say that I'm lazy. We're really going to be heard today, [and] now is the time when they're really going to pay attention to us," he said.

Jibri Range (far left)

Other McDonald's controversies

fight for 15

ATTN: first met Range in March at a rally against McDonald's suggested treatment of on-the-job burns. In March, workers filed 28 health and safety complaints in nearly 20 cities, claiming they were instructed to treat work-related burns with condiments, such as mustard.

"There are just so many different things you have to deal with on the job," McDonald's crew trainer Jemere Calhoun said to ATTN: at the March rally. "You have to deal with the low wages, disrespect, nepotism, there are just a lot of different things you have to deal with, and sometimes you may be only be working four hours and it's like the worst four hours of your day."

Jemere Calhoun, McDonalds crew trainer

At the March rally, Calhoun told ATTN: that working at McDonald's would be easier if employees had a union.

"When people are burned, if we had a union, maybe we could get some gloves and band aid," Calhoun said. "If we had a union, maybe we could be able to get in front of some of these damaging policies. Our injuries are a direct result of the way McDonald's runs its business and they need to be held accountable for that."