138 McDonald's protestors arrested near Oak Brook headquarters - FOX 32 News Chicago

138 McDonald's protestors arrested near Oak Brook headquarters

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OAK BROOK, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

At least 138 people were arrested Wednesday at a protest for higher wages for McDonald’s employees outside the company’s west suburban corporate headquarters.

Protestors associated with the Service Employees International Union entered the McDonald’s campus at Jorie Boulevard and Kroc Drive in Oak Brook without permission about 1:15 p.m., according to a statement from Oak Brook police.

At least 138 people were arrested and issued a village ordinance citation for criminal trespass, Oak Brook police Officer George Peterson said. Police estimated between 1,000 and 1,500 people took part in the protest.

The workers were protesting for $15 per hour wages and the right to form a union, according to a statement from the SEIU.

Dominque Byndom, 24, told Pioneer Press she came from Chicago to Oak Brook for the protest and brought her two children, Fabian and Haze, ages 2 and 3, in a stroller.

“I’ve been working at Burger King for about a month and make $8.25 an hour,” she said.

“I worked at McDonald’s for five years and made $8.25 and never got a raise. And all I ever get to work is 24 hours a week. You just cannot survive on $8.25 an hour. I’m looking for $15 an hour and 30-plus hours each week.”

Byndom said she came to the protest to be part of something in which she believes.

“This is our lives; I’m doing it for my kids,” she said. “I just want to be able to take care of my kids. Hopefully, we’ll wake someone up about this and get it done.”

Naquasia LeGrand, 22, traveled from New York City, where she has been working for the past three years at a KFC.

“It is a long way to come, but it’s important,” she said. “It’s a major victory that so many people came from all over the country it shows solidarity.”

LeGrand said that while most fast-food jobs may have been filled 20 years ago by high school students looking for part-time work, that no longer is the case.

“There are a lot of college graduates out here with us,” she said. “A lot of people have been having a hard time finding a job, and there are a lot of people working at fast-food restaurants who are trying to support their families.”

Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem of McDonald’s released a statement saying the company offers part-time and full-time employment, benefits and competitive pay based on the local marketplace and job level.

“McDonald’s and our owner-operators are committed to providing our respective employees with opportunities to succeed, and we have a long, proven history of providing advancement opportunities for those who want it,” she said.

“We invest in training and professional development that helps them learn practical and transferable business skills whether at McDonald’s or elsewhere.”

She also said about 80 percent of McDonald’s franchises are independently operated by small business owners, who are independent employers who must comply with local and federal laws.

“This is an important discussion that needs to take into account the highly competitive nature of the industries that employ minimum-wage workers, as well as consumers and the thousands of small businesses which own and operate the vast majority of McDonald’s restaurants,” the statement concluded.

“We respect the right of employees to choose whether or not they want to unionize.”

Demonstrators plan to return to the headquarters.

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