Jeff Stratton couldn’t stop grinning last December when he became the top exec for the U.S. side of the McDonald’s fast food empire. But Stratton wasn’t smiling recently, not when McDonald’s worker Nancy Salgado stood up from a hotel ballroom audience during one of his talks to protest Mickey D’s notorious poverty wages.
Dozens of McDonald's workers, supported by fellow members of the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago, convened at the Union League Club to speak out against McDonald's and their claims of providing "competitive wages and opportunities for career advancement".
McDonald's President Jeff Stratton was giving a keynote talk ("Fries with That?") for the First Friday Club of Chicago. As Mr. Stratton was beginning his talk, Nancy Salgado, a single mother of two young children and a McDonald's employee of ten years, stood up to confront the big bad CEO:
Nancy Salgado begins with, "I'm a Catholic woman and a single mother of two. It's really hard for me to feed my two kids and struggle day to day. Do you really think it's fair that I have to go through this? Do you think it's fair that I am making $8.25 while I've worked for McDonald's for 10 years?
McDonald's President Jeff Stratton had remained mostly silent but then replied, "I've been there for 40 years."
Nancy Salgado finishes with, "The thing is, I need a raise, but you're not helping your employees. How is this possible? You're out here, putting your face out here, and saying "I did this", but you haven't done anything because we're still living on poverty wages. And you know what? It's not fair."
Taxpayers are shelling out $1.2 billion a year to help pay workers at McDonald's, according to a study from the National Employment Law Project published yesterday. The organization used estimated figures from a study by University of California-Berkeley and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on how many fast food workers rely on public assistance programs like food stamps and Medicaid for its analysis. Overall, NELP found that low wages at the top 10 largest fast food chains cost taxpayers about $3.8 billion per year.
Soon after Nancy Salgado had spoke, security staff had her and six others arrested. They were all charged with criminal trespass and are faced with a November 1 court date. (They said that, if they had the chance, they would do it again.)
The video of the encounter (below) hopes to bolster the ongoing nationwide campaign for a $15 fast food minimum wage.