Fast-food workers storm an Uptown McDonald's to demand $15 minimum wage

Categories: Fast Food
FastFoodProtest.JPG
Jesse Marx
Inside the McDonald's at Hennepin and Lagoon avenues on Thursday
Steven Strong hops out of a black van behind the Hennepin County Library in Uptown alongside several of his fellow fast-food workers. He flexes a sign calling for "respect" and looks out at the crowd that's forming on the grass.

"We just want reasonable pay," he says, then weighs the task ahead of him. "I'll just be happy if I don't get arrested."

See also:
Cub Foods cleaning workers on day five of hunger strike


Across the country, the servers of places like McDonald's and Burger King united Thursday to demand $15 an hour pay and sick leave. Organizers point to the fact that the strongest employment sectors during the recovery pay low wages, which could undermine further economic growth.

What was once considered unthinkable is now the law in Seattle, in part because the cost of poor pay extends beyond the restaurants themselves. Two studies estimate that the government spends $7 billion a year to assist burger flippers and their families.

Strong says he has been working in fast food for much of his life, currently at the McDonald's on Lake Street and Second Avenue South, but has no permanent address to call home.

"What good is it to work," he asks, "if you can't afford a place to stay?"

He disappears into the crowd as it heads toward the McDonald's on Lagoon and Hennepin Avenues. Protestors stop traffic and make their way through the door, surprising several diners. Drummers bang on buckets. The crowd rumbles, "Strike! Strike! Strike!"

A teenage boy at the counter wearing flannel and basketball shorts leans back. "I want free meals!" he says, and looks to the female cashier for a laugh. She feigns a smile. The store manager stares into the dining room, with a hand on each hip.

One by one, labor activists, workers, and politicians grab a mic that's connected to a speaker perched atop a man's shoulder. Scott Dibble, the democratic state senator from Minneapolis, says the push for higher wages comes down to two words: "human dignity."

"Bullshit!" yells Jim Vandergriend, a customer who's just walked in the door. "Bullshit!"

He swipes a hand through the air and pushes his way to the counter to order a cup of coffee. He says the protestors are misguided, because their beef is with McDonald's whereas most of the franchises are individually owned. He fails to mention, though, that the National Labor Relations Board views the corporation and its franchisees as jointly liable for labor practices.

Before long, four cops arrive. They stand along the edge and watch quietly. Their presence tells the protestors that it's time to move on.

Rob Martin, another customer, follows the rally back into the street. He says he's unemployed and will probably end up taking a minimum wage job. He doesn't just sympathize with the protestors. He empathizes with them.

"There's a difference," Martin says.

-- Send story tips to the author or follow him on Twitter @marxjesse


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283 comments
carnivalminds
carnivalminds

Hey!
This is important. It's the one city pages blog post everyone agrees on! Now dance like lopsided white people that don't know how to drink. blame the sun!

Adam Boston
Adam Boston

You might not need a college degree to get a job at McDonalds, but saying you have a college degree makes you no better than someone who works in fast food. I've seen a lot of idiots with college degrees, in fact a lot of them are commenting here.

Kelly Zubick
Kelly Zubick

15/hr at mcdonalds??! That's insane!! After graduating with an associates degree in applied science as a veterinary technician I only made 10/hr starting!! As far as I'm concerned, you don't need a college degree to work at mcdonalds.

Brittany Nicholas
Brittany Nicholas

Robots are more efficient! Robots are more efficient! Robots are more efficient!

Craig Viknx
Craig Viknx

get a education & then get a better job folks

Troy Foldessy
Troy Foldessy

Most do not understand the bigger picture of this issue.

Stephen Conway
Stephen Conway

If our service members who die for our country and others make less than 15 an hour what gives you the right to ask for it by saying would you like fries with that if it doesn't pay enough get a second job or a better one and stop crying. Do better for your self and stop asking for hand outs.

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

economics 101 vs socialism 


look , we forced the business to pay us more


look, the utilities and the rent and insurance also goes up


look, oh no someone(s) is going to get laid off


and/or


look, THE POOR AND THE MIDDLE CLASS are going to pay more for the same or less burger


and on and on it goes


populist prey on feeble minded vs


the free market




Julie Brtek
Julie Brtek

Time raise all Food places not easy work long hour. Cost Rent and Food and other things going up sky rocket.

Julie Brtek
Julie Brtek

Hey my sister got fired at McDonald after 8 years over 9.00 hr sad. Beside cost living going up sky rocket. Can't fired work part time or full she work New Brighton area. Years back. Time fix new rules all Food Places.

Nicole Wiedl
Nicole Wiedl

I manage a Salon and have 12 years experience and I don't always make that much. If you want more money, work harder and earn it. I have worked at mcdaoalds. It is easy work. I have a career in customer service, and no customers are not always fun, but with out them there'd be no job, so put on your smile, put aside your sence of entitlement and serve the fries!

Luvalloverme Magby
Luvalloverme Magby

$15 dollars for what flip a burger nd drop fries hell no go find a better job work on ur resume there are so Many places tht will help u WTF. Second off it's not are problem u chose to stay there since high school America works to hard $15 dollars for Mickey D's lazy MF need to move around and explore your horizon ugh I'm beyond piss anyways gud day people\U0001f621

Ange Runnels
Ange Runnels

$15? I'm 33 years old and I have a degree and I've never made that much.

carnivalminds
carnivalminds

<iframe src="https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/frans_de_waal_do_animals_have_morals.html" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>

I made hamburger with onion. You deserve pay. I have George Foreman grill and it isn't ass. How are you working out $15.00 an hour in your head? I don't go to your workplace unless I'm in a pinch. It doesn't work out on any level.

Fernando Sanchez
Fernando Sanchez

Wow! I know people with degrees struggling to get that pay..

Eric Shawn Smith
Eric Shawn Smith

Blah blah blah. I went to college. ...I work hard......they don't deserve......it's a starter job......just shut the fuck up and take your cars into your garages, leave them running and shut the door behind you. Goodbye.

Daniel Newkirk
Daniel Newkirk

Move to North Dakota. They actually are paying 15 an hour.

Lance Howard
Lance Howard

I work in a school and I don't even make that much an hour

Curtis Boettjer
Curtis Boettjer

Ugh. Crazy utopian Bolshevik "organizers" would be better of helping people attain skills requisite of higher wages and less time on rabble-rousing and demanding things from corporations that they don't own. Also-$15 to flip burgers is nuts. The "working poor" get EBT and Obama phones and a lot of them drive nicer cars and wear nicer clothes than I do. Get on your pink belly and slither on down to Cuba if you want a communist utopia.

Heather Gilsrud
Heather Gilsrud

I worked at McDonald's in my senior yr of high school & for a few months after until I got an entry-level position job in the career of my choosing. I cannot IMAGINE DEMANDING to earn almost as much as someone with 20 yrs of experience in my current field, which requires securities licensing, a lot of knowledge of the industry, and other skills well beyond what I did at McDonald's. Rubbish.

bill799
bill799

Since when is a job that most kids in highschool can do worth $15 per hour?

One of the articles I saw on this quoted a promoter of it that $11 per hour would be the limit of poverty for a family of four.


If you don't have enough skills to at least do a job that is better than this, why are you trying to have a family of four and do it with just one job.


Having kids you know you cannot afford to raise is not a right.  It is stupidity.

Joel O'Brien
Joel O'Brien

They should have all been arrested for blocking traffic

Anna Sloan
Anna Sloan

Fifteen bucks? I don't even make that working In the psychiatric unit

Thomas John Johnson
Thomas John Johnson

It's so easy to say its not a $15/hr. job when you've been able to move on and make more.

Jarrett Allen
Jarrett Allen

you have to be kidding me.....i would hope that a low paying job would be enough for you to say "hey this is not enough money coming in, i am going to do something about it by getting another job or find a better paying one since flipping burgers is more of a HIGH SCHOOLERS job"

Jake Brown
Jake Brown

Hey Jason again mcdonalds is a starter job not a career. If they want 15 an hour learn a trade. Why should someone with less education get paid the same as someone who has more education and worked for where rhey are. Sorry but fast workers are not worth 15 an hour. Someone whos blind deaf and dumb can do there job even better than most of those workers. Sorry I don't pity those who dont believe in hard work and want everything handed to them.

Jason Wilson
Jason Wilson

Wait 20 years and have your company close. Be unemployed for more than a year. You will do what you have to...open your eyes.

Jason Wilson
Jason Wilson

They would if they got paid a decent wage. They probably don't care if they make $2/hr. Would you?

Jason Wilson
Jason Wilson

Almost everyone commenting on this are ASSHOLES. Get a better job. Go to college. You do not know that persons story. Do not judge, fuck faces. Until you live it, or have lived it and have an opportunity...do not judge. The person working at Mc Donalds might not have the same opportunities as you. Or breaks. You are all fuck faces....

Jeff Gargaro
Jeff Gargaro

It saddens me that at least half of Minnesotans are so starved for economics lessons. But even the economics aside, I would ask PLEASE, just for a second, consider the demographics of the minimum wage and that the overwhelming majority are just like me when I earned the minimum wage, washing dishes at age 14 at the local favorite restaurant in NE. I'm pretty sure we could "normalize" plenty of issues by ceasing to argue the exception rather than the rule.

Jimmy Allen Moore
Jimmy Allen Moore

The devaluation of the currency is the real problem. You can raise the minimum wage all you want, but as long as the Fed keeps on printing money that's not back by anything, it won't do any good.

Dipe Cheque
Dipe Cheque

Go to that McDonalds after bar close and tell me you'd deal with that shit for $8 an hour

Debbie Pias
Debbie Pias

Okay, you know what? I'm pretty damn liberal, but I have $40,000 in student loans to make only $5 more an hour than that. Minimum wage should definitely be raised, but even I think $15 is a little steep. This isn't California.

Jason Coleman
Jason Coleman

That McDonald's didn't get my order right for 4 years. Negative on the $15/hr.

Adam Lemieux
Adam Lemieux

At this point, a burger flipper will make more than an elementary teacher. Pathetic

Valerie Black
Valerie Black

Can you imagine how much food prices would increase at a fast food restaurant in order to even afford the $15/hr pay? Those workers requesting that increase don't think about that aspect...

carnivalminds
carnivalminds

And youre helping us understand "the bigger picture" by not elaborating? You insider, you

rkucera
rkucera

Is it crazy to understand that Americas economy is in the deep freeze, with millions of un-employed and under-employed people and no actual job prospects. REAL wages are lower than they have been at any time since the rotary telephone was considered hot new technology. There is an urgent need to rebalance the economy in the direction of the working poor. That means picking fights and making demands.  

thewritingchef
thewritingchef

Those age 16 to 19 years make up 24.2 percent of those workers making at or below the minimum wage. You could look this stuff up, instead of making incorrect assumptions that are the opposite of reality. http://www.bls.gov/cps/minwage2013.pdf

carnivalminds
carnivalminds

I can walk to Lake and Hennepin in 10 minutes and I haven't been there for 4 years. I choose not to hang with people born on third and think they hit a triple. Where'd my city go?

-Rocky Rococo

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