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Protesters say McDonald’s concessions leave glass half-empty

McDonald’s workers say recent moves by the fast-food giant to boost employee pay don’t go nearly far enough.

“Hold the burgers hold the fries make our wages supersize,” chanted protesters who had gathered Thursday morning near a McDonald’s restaurant at 95th & Halsted.

Earlier this week, McDonald’s had announced it will raise pay and give paid time off to employees at the 10 percent of its restaurants that are company-owned. McDonald’s will pay workers at least $1 an hour more than the local legal minimum wage and offer new benefits such as paid vacation.

That’s not enough, according to about 50 protesters who gathered Thursday. They are demanding that store workers at all McDonald’s restaurants, regardless of whether they are owned by the company or franchisees, receive $15 an hour.

“The dollar raise is a slap in the face,” said Nancy Salgado, 28, who works at a McDonald’s in Logan Square.

Nancy Salgado, who works at a McDonald's in Logan Square, called a proposed dollar-an-hour raise a slap in the face. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

Nancy Salgado works at a McDonald’s in Logan Square. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

Salgado, along with several fellow McDonald’s employees and members of Action Now, a local organization that promotes fair wages, called for McDonald’s employees to take part in an April 15 strike.

Salgado said she still needs government assistance to feed her family.

“It’s a way for me to stop crying every day that I can pay my rent,” said Salgado as she stood next to her grade school aged daughter. “It’s the equivalent of being able to survive.”

The Oak Brook-based company’s action followed worker protests for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, growing criticism of poor working conditions and earlier announcements by major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Gap and Ikea that they would increase their minimum wages.

McDonald’s proposed increase will apply to 90,000 workers; will lift the average hourly wage to $9.90 initially; and will let employees with at least one year of experience earn up to five days of paid time off each year, the company said.

The other 90 percent of McDonald’s 14,350 U.S. locations, which are run by 3,100 franchisees, make their own decisions on pay and benefits and are not bound by the corporate parent’s move.

McDonald’s new CEO, Steve Easterbrook, who replaced Don Thompson on March 1 with a mandate to boost sagging sales and a flagging image worldwide, said the action was needed to create a motivated work force and better customer service.

Contributing: Sandra Guy