Thousands Protesting Outside McDonald's Headquarters

May 20th 2015

Laura Donovan

Thousands of McDonald's workers swarmed the company's corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., on Wednesday in preparation for Thursday's annual shareholder meeting

Fight for $15, which organized nationwide protests over the current minimum wage in April, is planning to present McDonald's with a million petition signatures in favor of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and unionizing workers. According to a press release, McDonald's closed the suburban Chicago headquarters, and the McDonald's store near the building on Wednesday in anticipation of the two-day demonstrations, which involved workers chanting "We Work, We Sweat, Put $15 in Our Check" outside McDonald's HQ.

McDonald's closed

Outside McDonald's HQ

McDonalds rally

Anggie Godoy, a 19-year-old who has worked as a McDonald's cashier for a year, traveled from Los Angeles to attend the protests at McDonald's headquarters because "it's clear McDonald's could pay its workers $15 an hour" yet fails to do so. Godoy told ATTN: in a phone interview that her experiences have been both positive and negative, but that the downsides hit her especially hard because she's only making $9 an hour.

"There are days when I can't complain, and there are days that I just hate my job," Godoy told ATTN:. "I have to do three people's jobs. Let's say I'm taking orders in the drive-thru: I have to be doing drinks, I have to be taking orders, and then I also have to be running myself, which means getting my food and giving it to the drive-thru [customers] in the last window."

Godoy, who has been denied a raise from McDonald's before, says making $9 an hour discourages her from thinking about pursuing higher education, where she'd ideally study political science.

"It's so hard for me to even think about going to college because I'm struggling to help my mom support my two other siblings and I struggle to pay my bills," Godoy said. "So I have to put my college dreams on hold because I can't afford it ... With [$15 an hour], I think I'd be able to save up to go to college."

If she had a chance to speak at the shareholder meeting, Godoy says she'd tell the McDonald's executives to "stop thinking about themselves and start thinking about the people who make them rich."

Last month, Fight for $15 set up rallies all over the country to promote their cause of increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour. ATTN: attended the Los Angeles rally, which drew more than 1,000 people and shut down several streets. Jibri Range, a 22-year-old father who has been working at McDonald's for over a year, told ATTN: at the time that his earnings don't go very far in expensive Southern California.

"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]," Range told ATTN:. "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."

Like Godoy, Range has been refused a pay increase from McDonald's.

In March, McDonald's workers all over the U.S. also filed 28 health and safety complaints against the corporation, arguing they were told to treat on-the-job burns with condiments such as mustard and mayonnaise.

More bad news for McDonald's.

The shareholder protests are not the only issue worrying McDonald's. With sales and stocks on the decline, McDonald's recently announced restructuring efforts that will shift 36,000 company-owned stores to franchisees. 

“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."

A small pay increase.

Two weeks before the Fight for $15 rallies on April 15, McDonald's said it would increase wages at company-owned stores to at least a dollar higher than 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 American workers. 

Christine Owens, Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project, called the pay bump unsatisfactory as it doesn't apply to the vast majority of McDonald's workers who work at 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 in a statement. "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."