Trump Resistance movement takes aim at McDonald’s today
Detroit McDonald's worker protests outside his workplace in 2014. AP

CHICAGO – On the heels of mass demonstrations against President Trump’s policies that have drawn hundreds of thousands of Americans into the streets, leaders of the Trump resistance movement will converge in Chicago May 23 with thousands of workers in the Fight for $15 for a “March on McDonald’s” that is expected to be the biggest-ever protest to hit the fast-food giant.

On the eve of McDonald’s annual shareholder meeting, leaders of the Women’s March, Our Revolution, the Movement for Black Lives, MoveOn.org, Color of Change, NextGen and others will join forces with the Fight for $15 to demand that McDonald’s – the world’s second largest employer – use its power and influence to lift up Americans across the country rather than drag them down.

“Labor rights are women’s rights,” said Carmen Perez, co-chair of the Women’s March. “The link between the gender justice and labor justice movements is strong — but often unacknowledged. Women’s March is proud to join Fight for $15 and others to rise up against unfair labor practices, economic exploitation and workplace sexual harassment. These fights are our fights, and the only way we win is together.”

The mass protest comes as McDonald’s grapples with widespread consumer rejection of its brand. In March, McDonald’s executives announced the company has lost more than 500 million customers since 2012, the year cooks and cashiers at the fast-food giant first went on strike to demand $15 an hour and union rights.

“If McDonald’s wants to win back its customers, it needs to prove it respects workers like me – that starts by paying $15 an hour and respecting our right to a union,” said Adriana Alvarez, a McDonald’s worker from Chicago, Ill., and Fight for $15 leader. “McDonald’s has tried changing a lot about its business, but it hasn’t changed the way it treats workers like me. We still get paid so little that we have to rely on food stamps and public assistance to raise our families. We still face sexual harassment on the job, and get money stolen from our paychecks. Until McDonald’s respects its workers, Americans will continue to reject the company, and our movement will continue to grow.”

The march Tuesday will kick off outside Trump Tower in downtown Chicago and culminate in a massive rally outside the flagship Rock N Roll McDonald’s, highlighting how McDonald’s mistreatment of workers and communities parallels Trump’s own abuses of power. Like Trump, McDonald’s faces widespread charges of stealing from workers’ paychecks, sexually harassing women, ripping off taxpayers, and firing people for speaking out. Workers and leaders from across the progressive movement will stress that resistance to Trump’s agenda must include resistance to companies like McDonald’s that are “the Donald Trump of corporations.”

“We cannot allow corporations like McDonalds to continue violating basic workers’ rights to boost profits,” said Larry Cohen, Our Revolution Board Chair. “Women and men who work 40 hours a week continue to face poverty. McDonald’s continues to stand on the wrong side of worker’s rights by opposing minimum wage increases, paid sick leave, and fair scheduling. We’re marching to tell McDonald’s and other multinational corporations: this greed must end.”

The day after the March on McDonald’s, thousands of fast-food workers will travel to Oak Brook, Ill., to take their demand for $15 an hour and union rights directly to the company’s shareholder meeting. Cooks and cashiers will also protest at McDonald’s stores in more than a dozen cities across the country as the company’s shareholder meeting unfolds—the first time Fight for $15 shareholder meeting protests have expanded beyond Illinois.

The March on McDonald’s follows years of intensifying protests at the company’s shareholder meeting led by workers in the Fight for $15. In 2014, the company shuttered its headquarters while police officers met rallying workers in riot gear and arrested more than 100 McDonald’s cooks and cashiers during a peaceful sit-in. In 2015, McDonald’s workers hand delivered a petition to company representatives bearing more than one million signatures from Americans across the country calling on the company to support $15 an hour and union rights. And in 2016, hundreds of workers waged an overnight occupation outside the company’s headquarters ahead of the annual meeting, setting up a tent city following a massive march.

The Fight for $15 has forged deep ties with the Trump resistance movement since the November 2016 election. Marking the 49th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, the Fight for $15 and the Movement for Black Lives waged a nationwide “Fight Racism, Raise Pay” protest on April 4 spanning two-dozen cities across the country. And just weeks after the election, thousands of workers in the Fight for $15 walked off the job in 340 cities from coast to coast and engaged in waves of civil disobedience, pledging that they “won’t back down” in their fight for $15 and union rights.

Since Nov. 29, 2012, the Fight for $15 has spurred wage hikes totaling more than $62 billion for 22 million underpaid workers, including more than 10 million who are on their way to $15 an hour, by convincing everyone from voters to politicians to corporations to raise pay. Workers have taken what many viewed as an outlandish proposition – $15 an hour– and made it the new labor standard in New York, California, Seattle and Washington, D.C. Home care workers in Massachusetts and Oregon won $15 an hour statewide minimum wages and companies including Facebook, Aetna, Amalgamated Bank, JP Morgan Chase and Nationwide Insurance have raised pay to $15 an hour or higher.

“As the biggest fast-food company and the world’s second-largest employer, McDonald’s sets the bar for pay and working conditions throughout the fast-food industry and beyond,” said Kendall Fells, national organizing director of the Fight for $15. “McDonald’s way of doing business is holding all of us back. By paying $15 an hour and union rights, the company can help lift workers across the economy, and protect its own bottom line for the future.”

Organizations leading the March on McDonald’s include: Fight for $15, the Women’s March, MoveOn.org, Movement for Black Lives, Our Revolution, Next Gen, Color of Change, Fair Immigration Reform Movement, Repairers of the Breach, Indivisible Chicago, Women’s March-Chicago, Center for Community Change, 350.org and Patriotic Millionaires.

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