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McDonald's workers protest low wage laws

A 25-year old fast food worker from Kansas City recently took part in an organized protest against the corporate headquarters of McDonald's in Oak Brook, Illinois. The woman earns $7.75 an hour at her position, an increase of only fifty cents since she began work in 2011. She admitted that the working conditions are fair at the restaurant but stated. "It's not a living wage. It's like a constant struggle every day."

She and 137 other community activists and McDonald's low wage workers were arrested for their peaceful demonstration against the poverty level wage laws that McDonald's uses as guidelines for paying their workers, many of whom work only part-time and do not qualify for benefits. They were lobbying for an hourly wage increase to $15. The Oak Brook Police Department arrested the demonstrators for "criminal trespass to property," which could net them fines.

Earlier in the day, the road to the corporate headquarters was jammed with about 500 protesters, some singing, "We shall not be moved" when police warned them of their pending arrests. The protest was held the day before the corporate giant's annual meeting, which was to proceed as scheduled the next morning, according to a company spokesperson. That spokesperson also added, "We think it was a peaceful demonstration."

The Oak Brook protest was just the latest event in a movement that grew legs in 2012 and staged demonstrations from Los Angeles to New York. The protests are organized by groups financially supported by the Service Employees International Union.

Demonstrations by underpaid fast food workers across the nation continue to raise people's consciousness about income disparity. Kansas City workers who experience violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act or who are involved in wage disputes with their employers may need to take civil action to resolve their situations and receive compensation.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Protesters target McDonald's headquarters in pay fight" Jessica Wohl, May. 21, 2014

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