McDonald's Employees Strike Nationwide
The day before a shareholder meeting, workers are calling for the Golden Arches to pay all workers $15
Nine years after the first fast-food strikes and the launch of the Fight for $15 movement, workers at McDonald's are holding strikes in cities across the nation with the hope of finally achieving the long-sought-after raises that will allow them to live more comfortably and provide for their families.
On May 19th, workers in 15 cities went on strike at McDonald’s to demand something that seems fairly simple, a company-wide $15 minimum wage. While the company announced last week, that wages would increase by 10%, increasing starting wages to between $11 and $17 per hour, this raises only affects about 5% of McDonald's' restaurants. The rest are owned by franchise owners and most pay at or a little above their state’s minimum wage.
The action is taking place on the day before the annual McDonald’s shareholder meeting. During the pandemic, McDonald’s bucked the trend of many other restaurants and made nearly $5 billion last year. This allowed the company to increase dividends to shareholders and pay their CEO more than $10 million. According to Payscale, the average McDonald’s employees only make $10.43 an hour.
“I plan to go on strike to say to McDonald’s: don’t wait for politicians in Washington to pay us what we need to survive,” Hakim Dumkia, a McDonald’s worker in St. Louis, said in a statement. “We supported McDonald’s through the pandemic, and now you need to pay us enough to support our families and our communities.”
The one-day strike also comes as many fast food restaurants are struggling to find staff willing to put their health on the line to make such low wages. One franchise worker Nashon Blount, a 21-year-old who works at a franchise location in Durham, North Carolina, told Mother Jones that he worked through the pandemic making just $8.50 an hour before getting a recent raise to $9.20 an hour. That means that if he works full-time, he is only making $1,200 a month, with no health insurance, sick days, or paid vacation during a pandemic. Blount says that he is working at McDonald’s to pay for college, where he is studying to become a doctor, but can’t afford to take college courses on the low wages that McDonald’s pays.
The striking workers also received support from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) who addressed them today via Facebook Live. “You are doing exactly what you need to do to not only raise wages and create dignified work for yourself,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “But, frankly, you’re doing this for the entire industry. You are inspiring workers across the country.”
I'm here to tell @McDonalds directly that you're not going to do this as a PR effort and trick us.
— Fight For 15 (@fightfor15) May 19, 2021
Strikes took place in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Chicago, Detroit, Flint, Kansas City, St Louis, Raleigh-Durham, Fayetteville, Houston, and Milwaukee. There was also a demonstration planned for outside of the company’s headquarters in Chicago.