OAK BROOK, Ill. (KSDK) – Seven McDonald's workers from the St. Louis area were among the as many as 110 protesters arrested Wednesday outside the company's corporate campus in a labor protest calling for $15 an hour and a union.
Oak Brook police say the protesters were arrested for criminal trespassing after crossing a police barricade. Many were uniform-wearing McDonalds employees who had come from 33 U.S. cities.
Workers chanted "Hey McDonald's You Can't Hide, We Can See Your Greedy Side," and "No Big Macs, No Fries, Make our Wage Supersize," as the arrests were made. Fast Food Forward officials said more than 2,000 gathered for Wednesday's protest. McDonald's officials estimated the crowd at 600, and Oak Brook Police estimated the crowd at 1,000 to 1,500. Department spokeswoman Erica Huff said they arrived in 32 buses.
Wednesday started out as a day of cat-and-mouse among the group, police and McDonald's. The protest was planned for McDonald's U.S. headquarters building, but police closed a key road, and McDonald's had advised workers at that building to work from home.
When protesters arrived to a mostly empty parking lot, they opted to move to the other side of the campus to the company's world headquarters.
McDonald's said it has no plans to make any changes for Thursday's annual meeting. "Folks have a right to protest peacefully and express their views," says spokeswoman Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem. "We're gearing up for our annual business meeting tomorrow and welcoming our shareholders to campus."
The Rev. Dr. William Barber II, head of the NAACP's North Carolina chapter, led the march onto the sprawling McDonald's campus. "We can't treat corporations like people, and people like things," he said. "A living wage is a moral mandate, and it's time for McDonald's to pay fast-food workers their just due now."