Socialist Worker

US fast food strikers stage mass sit-in at McDonald's shareholder event

by Julie Sherry
Issue No. 2404

The mass sit-in outside McDonalds corporate shareholder event

The mass sit-in outside McDonald's corporate shareholder event (Pic: Nequasia LeGrand)


More than 2,000 fast food workers and their supporters joined a mass sit-in outside a McDonald’s corporate shareholders event in the US city of Chicago on Wednesday 21 May.

The protest followed strikes at major fast food chains in more than 150 cities in the US last week. It was part of a fast food rights global day of action that saw solidarity protests take place in over 30 countries.

The strikers have a simple demand—$15 (£9) an hour and trade union rights.

Nequasia LeGrand, a 22 year old KFC worker from Brooklyn, New York, was at the sit-in. She told Socialist Worker, “People came from all over—New York, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Florida, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Detroit, Tennessee, Kansas City and many more.”

The bosses’ event took place in a western suburb of Chicago at ‘McDonald’s University”, a 130,000 square foot training facility of McDonald's Corporation.

Nequasia said, “We were all pumped and excited. It was amazing seeing all these workers that believe we can win and are ready to take McDonald’s down. We marched and shut down one of Chicago's main highways.

“We chanted all the way to McDonald’s University to get our voices heard. But, of course, you know they’re not gonna just let thousands of people walk in.”

The bosses were clearly rattled by it. The strikers are growing in number, influence and confidence.

Resolve

In a bid to weaken their resolve riot police waded in to the protest, arresting 137 demonstrators—101 were fast food workers. But the attempts to intimidate may prove to have backfired.

For many on the protest, the heavy-handed police tactics only acted to deepen their determination to keep up the fight.

One of the arrested strikers, 20 year old Natasha from Milwaukee, described singing and chanting in the crowd that was facing down the riot police, and how she felt a process of “pushing away my fear”.

“You stand up for your rights and you make history… If I have to constantly get arrested until they make a change, I will do it.”

Nequasia agreed, “People were willing to do whatever it takes, even if that is getting arrested, for your rights and a better future for the world.

“Over a 100 people decided to push their way through to get our voices heard. It was the most wonderful feeling everybody felt.

“I can see it in workers’ eyes that we have no choice but to win $15 and a union.”

Read Socialist Worker's interview with US fast food strikers and how they have organised their fight

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