Hundreds of people were expected to turn out for a two-day protest starting Wednesday at McDonald's suburban Chicago headquarters as part of the nationwide Fight For $15 wage increase movement.
Organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the group is calling it the "largest [protest] to ever hit the company’s shareholder meeting."
The event comes one day after the movement scored its biggest victory yet, with the city of Los Angeles voting to increase the city's minimum wage to $15, representing a 66-percent increase.
And it comes on the same day as New York's wage board — which the Fight For $15 movement also occupied — met for the first time to consider higher pay in the Empire State.
Michael Reich an economist at the University of California-Berkeley, said federal inaction, declining unemployment and dismal wage gains during the economic recovery, in addition to movements like the Fight Fot $15, are responsible for recent wage gains.
"Activists and policy-makers [are] more confident that the economy can absorb higher minimums," he said in an email.
Earlier this year, McDonald's pledged to increase wages, but only at company-owned stores, which comprise just 12 percent. The average hourly wage there is currently $9.01.
According to the National Employment Law Project, this ends up costing taxpayers $1.2 billion a year in public assistance.
"McDonald’s is a $5 billion global corporation; its employees should not need to rely on food stamps, and taxpayers should not be subsidizing its profits," Christine Owens,executive director of the National Employment Law Project, said in a statement.
“The two key words in fast food are fast and food, and McDonald’s is no longer fast, and its burgers ranked last in a Consumer Reports survey recently,” Larry Light, chief executive of Arcature, a consulting firm and a former McDonald’s executive, told the New York Times earlier this year. “Those are their No. 1 and No. 2 challenges, but I’m not sure they know it.”
McDonald's did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.