McDonald’s employees from nearly three dozen cities marched to the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting last Thursday morning in Oak Brook, Ill. Calling for better wages, employees of the fast food giant responded to claims by officials that McDonald’s jobs are primarily first jobs for teenagers.
“This isn’t a starter job, and I’m not a teenager,” said Ashona Osborne, a 22-year-old mother who makes $7.25 an hour at a Pittsburgh McDonald’s, in a statement. “This is my career, and I’m struggling to raise a family and provide for my son. That’s not possible on $7.25. McDonald’s needs to recognize that its workforce has changed. McDonald’s should offer real opportunity for workers and our families, and they should start by raising wages to $15 an hour.”
Joined by clergy and community supporters, more than 800 workers—mostly mothers and fathers in their mid-20s and older—wanted to show the company what the “average employee” really looked like.
“I’ve been working for McDonald’s for 10 years, and my hourly paycheck is the same now as it was my first day on the job: $7.35,” said Cherri Delisline, a mother of four from Charleston, S.C., in a statement. “McDonald’s can keep on saying that we are teenagers, but saying it over and over again doesn’t make it true.”
While chanting, “We work, we sweat, put $15 on my check,” workers marched up to a police barricade and rallied in front of the campus entrance. Protesters then marched down the street to the building where the meeting was held, which overlooks a lake on the campus. When shareholders came out of the building after the meeting, Detroit workers snapped photos and chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho $7.40 has got to go,” referring to their minimum wage salaries in Michigan.
Recent studies by the Center for Economic and Policy Research showed that 70 percent of fast food workers are above the age of 20, one quarter of them are raising children and more than 30 percent have had at least some college education. Fast food workers felt that another report last year by the National Employment Law Project debunked the fast food industry’s claim that its low-wage jobs are paths to higher-paying managerial positions or eventual opportunities to own and operate franchises. The report showed that managerial positions make up 2.2 percent of all jobs in the industry.