McDonald's Workers Arrested for Demanding a Living Wage

May 26, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |



On Wednesday, May 21, at the opening of McDonald's annual shareholders meeting, approximately 1,500 protesters, including hundreds of workers dressed in their McDonald's uniforms, marched onto the campus of McDonald's corporate headquarters in suburban Chicago demanding $15 per hour pay for its workers. They were met by a phalanx of 250 police, including state police in riot gear. 138 were arrested, including 101 McDonald's workers, plus union organizers, clergy, and other supporters of the growing movement demanding a living wage for fast food workers in the U.S. and other countries.

One McDonald's employee who was arrested, the mother of two small children who has worked at McDonald's for four years, said: "I make $8.98 and it's not enough. I have to depend on public assistance and my family, and I shouldn't have to do that when I have a job with a big corporation that makes billions of dollars every year on my back."

The action at McDonald's headquarters followed an international strike day on May 15 where hundreds of fast food workers in cities in the U.S. and in 30 other countries walked off their jobs for one day and took to the streets demanding higher pay. Many of these actions are being organized and supported by Service Employees International Union and other unions.

These beginnings of mass resistance by low-wage fast food workers are taking place in the context of growing attention to the gross inequalities that exist between millions and millions of people in the lower tiers of society and the obscene earnings and profits of corporations and the so-called top one percent.

Indeed, McDonald's workers earn an average $8.25 in this country, a wage that keeps most well below the poverty line—while the CEO of McDonald's has an annual compensation package of $9.5 million. In 2013 McDonald's reported $5.6 billion in net profits. And yet faced with the demands for higher employee wages, McDonald's CEO declared that a $15 hourly wage was "unrealistic." Last year in an on-line site for employees McDonald's advised them on how to budget their earnings—as if poor budget management is what keeps McDonald's 1.8 million employees worldwide living in poverty!

But this is not simply a matter of corporate greed—this is the product of the workings of a system which is rooted in the accumulation of wealth by a handful of capitalists based upon the exploitation of millions and millions of workers, a system whose dynamics are driven by the compulsion of these individual capitalists to maximize this exploitation in competition with other capitalists in an expand or die race for the greatest profit and share of the market. The current oppressive world order can't exist without this kind of anarchic drive for profit and grinding exploitation of people here and all over the world.

A society like this—where the lives and potential of millions of people are squandered, crushed, and demeaned to serve the dictates of the accumulation of the most profit—is completely unacceptable. The resistance that is developing among broad sections of low-wage workers should be supported and strengthened as part of building a movement for revolution to rid the world of this scourge of capitalism and put in its place a society where people's energies, labor and ideas can be marshaled to actually meet the common needs of all of society.

Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.