More than 100 demonstrators protesting for better wages outside the McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD) headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., were arrested Wednesday, a day ahead of the company’s annual shareholder meeting.
Oak Brook police reportedly said that a group of about 101 McDonald’s workers and about 38 clergy and union activists had been arrested for criminal trespass after they crossed a police barricade. The protest against the world’s biggest restaurant-chain operator by revenues came a day before the annual shareholder meeting where executive pay, including that of CEO Don Thompson who reportedly received a total compensation of $9.5 million in 2013, is expected to be discussed. The workers were reportedly demanding a minimum wage of $15 an hour and the right to unionize without retaliation.
"We need to show McDonald's that we're serious and that we're not backing down," Jessica Davis, a 25-year-old McDonald's crew trainer, who earned $8.98 an hour at a Chicago McDonald's, told Reuters.
Fast Food Forward, a group that organizes workers, reportedly said that more than 2,000 people had gathered for Wednesday’s protest, while McDonald’s executives estimated the number at 600, and police officials estimated the crowd at 1,000 to 1,500.
According to police officials, workers reportedly chanted “Hey McDonald's You Can't Hide, We Can See Your Greedy Side," and "No Big Macs, No Fries, Make our Wage Supersize," as the arrests were made.
Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem, a spokeswoman for McDonald’s, told Reuters: "$15 is unrealistic, but we know that the minimum wage will increase over time." She also said that the company and its franchisees have been monitoring the debate over minimum wage, adding: “Folks have a right to protest peacefully and express their views.”
Kendall Fells, a spokesman for Fast Food Forward, reportedly said that they wanted the shareholders and Thompson to “hear us and see us and know that these are the workers they are pushing into poverty.”
President Barack Obama has pushed Congress to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from the current $7.25.