McDonald's workers are striking Wednesday, May 19

Ahead of McDonald’s annual shareholders meeting on May 20, workers at McDonald’s in 15 cities around the US are striking in demand of a $15 minimum wage and a union.

Workers will strike in Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Chicago, Detroit, Flint, Kansas City, St Louis, Houston, and Milwaukee.

Shortly after the strike was announced, McDonald’s released plans to raise minimum wage for workers to $15 an hour, but not only is delaying the increase until 2024, but the wage increases are only eligible for workers at corporate owned restaurants, around 650 restaurants, or 5 percent of restaurants in the US. \

“McDonald’s, this is pretty simple: we need a minimum of $15/hr. We’ve showed up to work day after day in the middle of a global pandemic, risking our lives without proper PPE or paid time off to keep your stores open and corporate profits flowing. You’ve called us essential for over a year, but your announcement today proves that you’ve seen us as disposable all along,” said Doneshia Babbitt, a McDonald’s worker in St. Louis, Missouri and Fight for $15 and a Union leader, in a recent press release in response to McDonald’s wage raise announcement.

Its unclear how many of McDonald’s corporate owned restaurants are in cities/counties/states where local minimum wage is already at or scheduled to increase to $15 an hour by 2024.

Workers at McDonald’s, one of the largest fast food chains in the world, have long sounded the alarm over the company’s low wages and poor working conditions, with restaurant crew turnover estimated between 80 to 90 percent. Through the coronavirus pandemic, McDonald’s workers walked out and protested lack of coronavirus safety protections for workers, as workers were pushed to show up to work even if they were feeling sick for fear of retaliation and lack of paid sick time. Despite the risks workers at McDonald’s faced by working through the pandemic in unsafe work environments, with a public where many customers have refused to wear masks or follow coronavirus safety protocols, McDonald’s did not provide workers with any hazard pay throughout the pandemic.

I spoke with Cris Cardona, a shift manager at a McDonald’s in Orlando, one of several workers at the fast-food chain in at least 15 US cities who will participate in a daylong strike on 19 May to demand the company raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Cardona has worked at McDonald’s for four years, and makes just over $11 an hour, which he explained has prevented him from moving out of his parents’ home, getting his own car, or being able to go attend college.

“They call us essential, but the reality is they treat us like we’re disposable,” said Cardona. “They like to say that no one wants to work, that they’re having trouble finding workers and they blame this on unemployment benefits, but the problem is no one wants to work for a poverty wage, to risk their lives for $7.25 an hour.”

McDonald’s projected growth in 2021 is in the double digits, after making a $5 billion profit in 2020 and paying out $4 billion in dividends to stock shareholders.

“I can’t afford to wait any longer for a raise,” added Hakim Dumkia, a McDonald’s worker in St. Louis, in a press release from Fight for $15 and Union on the planned strikes this week. “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. We supported McDonald’s through the pandemic, and now you need to pay us enough to support our families and our communities.”