The protest against McDonald's Corp, the world's biggest
restaurant operator by revenue, came a day before a shareholder vote
on executive pay, including that of Chief Executive Don Thompson,
who earned total compensation of $9.5 million in 2013.
Rallies by low-wage restaurant and retail workers have helped fuel a
national debate on pay inequality at a time when many middle- to
low-income Americans are struggling to make ends meet.
Jessica Davis, a 25-year-old McDonald's crew trainer with two
children, said Thompson was earning his millions on the backs of
working mothers and fathers.
"We need to show McDonald's that we're serious and that we're not
backing down," said Davis, who earns $8.98 per hour at a Chicago
McDonald's, which is grappling with sagging U.S. sales and higher
beef prices, does not disclose average pay for restaurant workers,
most of whom work for franchisees.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 3.5 million
fast-food and counter workers in the United States earn a median
hourly wage of $8.83.
U.S. President Barack Obama has pushed Congress to raise the federal
minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from $7.25. Washington, D.C. and 21
states have minimum wages higher than the federal minimum.
McDonald's spokeswoman Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem said the company and
its franchisees were monitoring the minimum wage debate. "$15 is
unrealistic, but we know that the minimum wage will increase over
time," she said.
"It's time for the McDonald's Corporation ... to stop pretending
that it can't boost pay for the people who make and serve their
food," said Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees
International Union (SEIU), who was among those arrested at the
protest in Oak Brook, Illinois. Organizers said 2,000 people turned
out for the rally.
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A recent report from New York think tank Demos found that the
CEO-to-worker compensation ratio for the fast food industry was more
than 1,000-to-1 in 2013.
Thus far, public pension fund managers from New York City,
Connecticut and the California Public Employees' Retirement System
(CalPERS) have said they plan to vote against the McDonald's
executive pay advisory measure at the company's annual meeting on
Officials of the California State Teachers' Retirement System
(CalSTRS) and the Florida State Board of Administration said they
would vote in support of the measure.
Chipotle Mexican Grill shareholders on May 15 voted overwhelmingly
against an advisory pay proposal from the burrito seller, which paid
its co-CEOs nearly $50 million last year.
(Additional reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston,; Editing by Nick
Zieminski, Andrew Hay, Toni Reinhold)
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