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McDonald's workers protest alleged 'wage theft'

By Candice Choi

AP Food Industry Writer

LAST UPDATED: 05:51 p.m. HST, Mar 18, 2014

NEW YORK » Organizers of the fast-food protests for higher pay on Tuesday shifted their attention to another issue: "wage theft."

Protesters planned to rally outside McDonald's restaurants in cities including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami to call attention to the denial of overtime pay and other violations they say deprive workers of the money they're owed.

McDonald's Corp. said in a statement that its restaurants remain open "today — and every day — thanks to the teams of dedicated employees serving our customers.""

The actions are part of an ongoing campaign by union organizers to build public support for pay of $15 an hour. The Service Employees International Union has been providing financial and organizational backing for the push, which began in late 2012. Since then, a series of protests around the country has captured national media attention and served as a backdrop for President Obama's call to raise the federal minimum wage.

On Tuesday, organizers said rallies were planned for about 30 cities, but the size of the turnout wasn't clear. In New York, roughly 50 protesters streamed into a McDonald's across the street from the Empire State Building, surprising customers. They chanted for a few minutes before being kicked out by police.

Once back outside, members of the group took turns speaking before a large gathering of TV cameras and other media. New York City public advocate Letitia James voiced her support while standing next to a protester dressed as Ronald McDonald in handcuffs.

"It's hard enough for fast-food workers to survive in this economy," James said. She is planning to introduce legislation to establish a hotline to report "wage theft."

It was a far smaller showing than other recent protests in New York City and it wasn't clear how many participants were fast-food workers, rather than campaign organizers, supporters or members of the public relations firm that has been coordinating media efforts. Still, the latest rallies reflect the push by labor groups to keep continued pressure on the issue of worker pay.

In Los Angeles, a crowd of 50 demonstrated at a McDonald's for about a half-hour. The group held a brief press conference outside before marching inside with banners and signs. In Boston, about 40 people waved signs reading "Stop Stealing Now" and chanted "Every nickel, every dime, we deserve our overtime!"

They entered a mostly empty McDonald's and confronted a manager, who explained that he didn't have the authority to respond to their claims.

In a statement, the National Restaurant Association called the demonstrations "orchestrated union PR events where the vast majority of participants are activists and paid demonstrators."

The demonstrations are a follow-up to lawsuits filed last week in three states on behalf of workers, who said they had their wages stolen by McDonald's and its franchisees. Workers said money was deducted from their paychecks for their uniforms and that they were sometimes made to wait around before they could clock in, according to the lawsuits.

The workers were referred to attorneys by the protest organizers.

McDonald's, which has more than 14,000 U.S. locations, has said it will investigate the allegations and take any necessary action.

AP photographer Jae C. Hong contributed from Los Angeles. AP Writer Paige Sutherland contributed from Boston.

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false wrote:
Organizer in chief hard at work doing what he does best...
on March 18,2014 | 07:35PM
localguy wrote:
$15 an hour for fast food workers? Not going to happen. These acutely dysfunctional people fail to understand service jobs are not career jobs. If you are 40-50 years old and working full time in service, you have a problem. Did you complete high school? Did you go to college? Did you learn a skill in the military? Answered no to all these areas your problem is obvious, look in the mirror. Don't expect people to subsidize your failure to succeed in life.
on March 18,2014 | 08:18PM
droid wrote:
Good point! Now from a business standpoint, if McDonald’s® raised its American wage to $15 an hour, franchises would begin closing down nationwide. People don’t realize that its not McDonald’s® Corporation or even Ronald McDonald House who own these restaurants. The owners are small business people who have paid hundreds of thousand$ of dollars for "permission" to operate a single McDonald’s®.

As it stands right now, it takes years for the owners to profit from their investment. Force them to pay more — and they’ll be forced into bankruptcy at current entrée prices. No doubt McDonald's® will do whatever it takes to quell this little rebellion before it falls from its fast-food pedestal.
on March 19,2014 | 02:34AM
ISCREAM wrote:
Clock in when you are supposed to....enough said.
on March 18,2014 | 09:07PM
9ronboz wrote:
Definition of wage theft is used incorrectly. Should be used for workers that come in and day in day out under performs, takes home a paycheck and argues why there is no pay raise.
on March 18,2014 | 09:16PM
SteveToo wrote:
" a crowd of 50 " hardly a crowd.....
on March 18,2014 | 09:45PM
sailfish1 wrote:
If they don't like the pay, quit and get a higher paying job. McDonald's is not their mother, McDonald's is a business that needs to make money to survive.
on March 18,2014 | 10:40PM
CEI wrote:
Where's little Barry? This kind of stuff was his bread and butter back in the day when he was a "community organizer" Oh yeah, he quickly forgot the little people when he discovered he could get massive donations from the 1 percenters he loves to demonize.
on March 19,2014 | 12:53AM
PMINZ wrote:
"Wage Theft" what? $15 per hour ? What? You have to be kidding! Unskilled labor demanding higher wages for minimal work have no idea what reality is. Then skilled labor should be making a heck of a lot more. This is ibsane.
on March 19,2014 | 04:06AM
hawn wrote:
Service Employees International Union, that's what it's all about. Union want's easy money off the back of working people. They'll push for the raise then push to get organized and then people you'll wait forever to get your order and hopefully get it right.
on March 19,2014 | 07:19AM
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