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McDonald's workers protest "poverty wages" and demand $15/hour

“Out of the kitchens and into the streets.”

McDonalds Shareholders-Salaries Associated Press Associated Press

THOUSANDS OF MCDONALD’S staff from across America have descended on the company’s annual shareholder meeting, demanding $15/hour wages, and the right to unionise.

The two-day protest began yesterday, when up to 2,000 people demonstrated outside McDonald’s HQ in Oak Brook Illinois, near Chicago.

Some carried signs declaring, “We are worth more,” and dozens of buses were used to transport the workers, with some coming from as far away as New York.

The campaign for $15 an hour and a union (the “Fight for 15“) began in late 2012 and has involved a range of tactics, including demonstrations in cities around the country.

The campaign describes itself as a “movement of underpaid workers taking a stand against poverty wages.”

The Rev. William Barber of Goldsboro, North Carolina, said the campaign extends beyond pushing for a living wage. He called it a fight for racial equality, noting people of color are disproportionally working in low wage jobs.

Corey Anderson, 21, who works at a Chicago McDonald’s, said he makes $8.25 an hour after working for the fast-food chain for more than two years. That’s not enough to live on after rent and utilities are paid, he said.

I feel like they don’t understand what it’s like to make what we make.

In response to the first day of protest, however, McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said he was “incredibly proud” of a recent decision to pay workers $1 more than the minimum wage in their state, and help out with college tuition fees.

However, workers have dismissed that move because it would only apply to company-owned branches, and the vast majority of the more than 14,300 McDonald’s restaurants in America are franchises.

In the US, each state determines what the minimum wage is, but it cannot fall below the federal limit of $7.25/hour.

Earlier today, protesters delivered a petition of support to McDonald’s that organizers said had 1.4 million signatures.

During the meeting, the company got support from at least one shareholder, who noted that actress Sharon Stone and CEO Jeff Bezos once worked at McDonald’s.

If they were paid $15, he claimed, they’d still be working there.

Contains reporting by the Associated Press.

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