Protest for $15 an hour planned ahead of McDonald's meeting

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

OAK BROOK, Ill. (AP) — Labor organizers and workers are expected to protest outside McDonald's headquarters Wednesday to drive home their demand for pay of $15 an hour and a union for fast-food workers.

The start of the two-day demonstration in Oak Brook, Illinois, comes ahead of the company's annual shareholder meeting on Thursday.

Last year, McDonald's decided to close a building and let employees work from home because of a similar protest, which later led to more than 100 people being arrested.

A representative for McDonald's, Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem, said the company again suggested employees work from home on Wednesday to "alleviate the anticipated traffic congestion." But she said "essential personnel" were in the "different buildings." A McDonald's restaurant near the building was closed.

The campaign for pay of $15 an hour and a union began in late 2012 and has involved a range of tactics, including ongoing demonstrations in cities around the country. Earlier this year, McDonald's said it would raise its starting pay for workers to $1 above the local minimum wage. But labor organizers said the move falls short because it only applies to company-owned stores.

McDonald's Corp. owns about 10 percent of its stores in the U.S., while the rest are run by franchisees.

The protests come as McDonald's fights to hold onto customers amid intensifying competition from smaller rivals and changing tastes. CEO Steve Easterbrook, who stepped into the role in March, has said he wants to transform McDonald's into a "modern, progressive burger company."

Thursday will mark his first shareholder meeting as CEO.