On May 21, 2015, the urban streets of Chicago were engulfed in the cries of thousands, as workers, community supporters, and other stakeholders stood in solidarity at the headquarters of McDonald’s. Tears filled my eyes as I heard the overwhelming accounts of hundreds of workers, oppressed by income inequality, struggling for survival.
A young African American McDonald’s worker shared her emotionally driven story of struggling to make ends meet to support her Autistic son and pay for his medical expenses after the death of her husband. Another man, a Spanish immigrant who came to America with the idea of the “American Dream” and being able to support his family, shared his account of working for the mega corporation for over 20 years and never receiving a raise—not even once.
This was a follow up to #FightFor15 protests, which demanded an increase in wages and union representation, and took place in over 200 cities nationwide and 40 countries globally on April 15.
This scene is not an isolated occurrence, but represents an ongoing international effort to improve conditions for workers globally. Although #FightFor15 protests have moved the worker rights’ battle onto the front of the radar on American soil, the battle has a deep-rooted history in decades of labor violations at the profit-driven hands of multinational corporations.
In 2010, after continued pressure, multinational giant Nike paid approximately $2.5 million in legally owed severance to 1,800 Honduran workers. The brand also came under fire in the 1990s for alleged sweatshop conditions in Vietnam.