McDonald's workers demand higher pay in Oak Brook

ByLaura Podesta WLS logo
Thursday, May 25, 2017
McDonalds workers demand higher pay
Hundreds of protesters descended on McDonald's headquarters Wednesday morning in southwest suburban Oak Brook, fighting for a 15 minimum wage.

OAK BROOK, Ill. (WLS) -- Hundreds of protesters descended on McDonald's headquarters Wednesday morning in southwest suburban Oak Brook, fighting for a $15 minimum wage.

No one was arrested at the peaceful protest, but there were a few points when it looked like people would break the police barrier and try to enter the private property.

The marchers chanted, "This is what democracy looks like," as they demanded a livable wage and union rights.

Adriana Alvarez, who works at a McDonald's in Cicero, said she has worked for the company for six years. She said she wants to be able to feed and clothe her son without going on welfare.

"I'm working close to 40 hours and I'm not making enough to support him on my own. I should not have to ask for government assistance," Alvarez said.

The protest was held outside the shareholders' meeting. The workers wanted to make a statement to McDonald's leadership at the company's gates.

"We are here to let shareholders know, and McDonald's know, that we are fighting for $15 and we're not gonna stop until we have that - and a union," said Reverend W.J. Rideout, a Fight for $15 organizer.

It's unclear if the march made an impact. Not one shareholder stepped out to speak to protesters. Oak Brook police set up a perimeter with tape and barriers to keep demonstrators from entering company grounds.

McDonald's did not respond to Wednesday's rally, but told ABC 7 in a statement last year that they have increased workers' wages by $1 above the local minimum wage at company-owned restaurants and gave employees opportunities to receive free high school completion courses and college tuition assistance.

Cook County will be increasing its minimum wage for workers in July, but there are several communities in the county which have opted out of that increase by amending their own city code.

"So it's quite shameful and disappointing to see any elected officials not listening to the voters, not listening to the facts and not doing what the community wants and what workers need," said Shelly Ruzicka, Arise Chicago.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said those communities avoiding the ordinances were being extremely short-sighted.

A McDonald's spokesperson released this statement Wednesday:

"Our commitment to the communities we serve includes providing opportunities for those who work in our restaurants to succeed at McDonald's and beyond. For hundreds of thousands, a job at McDonald's is their very first and our world-class training and education programs begin building the skills first time workers will need to succeed in the workforce. In recent years, we have raised pay and started offering paid time off at our company-owned restaurants. Additionally, eligible employees (at both company-owned and participating franchised restaurants) can take free high school completion classes, get upfront college tuition assistance and learn English as a second language. In just two years, we are proud that over 17,000 employees have participated in this extended learning. Together, these important investments in our people show why we are committed to being America's best first job."