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St. Louis Fast Food Workers to Protest McDonald's Following "Stolen Wages" Lawsuits

Categories: Bidness

mcdonalds_golden_arches.jpg
Wikimedia/Stephen McKay
In response to class action lawsuits in three states against the McDonald's Corporation that involves wage theft, St. Louis-area fast food workers will protest the hamburger chain in solidarity with their colleagues on Tuesday.

The lawsuits involve 27 plaintiffs and include several allegations, including being forced to work off the clock, were not fully paid for overtime and break periods, and in some cases, the pay records were falsified by the employer.

In Michigan and New York, one of the complaints from McDonald's employees is that the cost of uniform upkeep, for which they are not reimbursed, makes their wages fall below the minimum wage.

In St. Louis, employees say they have faced similar situations, so they plan on picketing at the McDonald's on Hampton Ave. at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

See also: Show Me $15: Fast Food Workers Strike for Higher Pay at McDonald's, Domino's (PHOTOS)

Shnette Hooker, a 43-year-old fast food worker in St. Louis County, describes two incidents in which she claims she was paid less than what she was supposed to get.

"At the end of my shift one of the cash register drawers was missing $20. My manager made me pay out of pocket for it, even though I wasn't the only one on my drawer that day," says Shnette Hooker, 43, a McDonald's worker in St. Louis county, adding: "One time, after clocking out for the day, my manager made me restock items instead of letting me go - work that I am not getting paid for."

The St. Louis protest is being held by Show Me 15, a local organization that advocates for a $15 per hour wage for fast food workers. The group is part of the national movement that is backed by the Service Employees International Union and coordinated with help from the political communications firm BerlinRosen.

fastfood_protest.jpg
Krystyna Ninh
Photo from a May 2013 protest by fast food workers.

Fast food chains and big box retailers such as Walmart have been heavily criticized over the past two years for providing extremely low wages for employees despite making hefty profits. These wages are not enough to lift one's self out of poverty, worker advocates argue, and workers need government assistance to offset their miniscule wages. In effect, the low wages allow for these companies to have a subsidized workforce at the taxpayers' expense.

See also: St. Louis Fast-Food Workers Protest for Better Pay, Right to Organize

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has been advocating raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour while clothing retailer The Gap has announced it will raise wages of its employees to $10 per hour in 2015. And Walmart has said it is "looking into" the idea of raising their employees' wages to around $10 per hour, although the world's largest retailer has not made any promises.

However, most fast food and retail giants have done the same thing as McDonald's: be pretty much quiet. This, despite the attention fast food workers' plight has received and even Congress getting in on the action.

In a December 2013 letter from 53 members of Congress addressed to McDonald's CEO Don Thompson, the representatives wrote: "Too many hard-working families are being forced to depend on poverty-level wages. Paying fair wages and putting more spending money in the hands of consumers will strengthen our economy."

For St. Louis-area fast-food workers like Hooker, this explains the protest.

"That's why we're fighting for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation," she says.

See also: Show Me $15 Fast Food Workers Rally

Follow Ray Downs on Twitter:

E-mail him at Ray.Downs@RiverfrontTimes.com.


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78 comments
Gashid Thior
Gashid Thior

They agreed to work "at will" for this employer; meaning if McDonald's wants to fire them they can or if they want to leave for any reason they can. An employer only owes those who work for them what was agreed on during the hiring process. Employers do not even owe an employee pay raises or insurance; so where this generation of entitled adolescents came from is beyond my comprehension.

Jason Esteves
Jason Esteves

Duh!, Theresa A. Boettler you should be paid $30 as a skilled trained ophthalmic technician. They aren't overpaid at $15 an hour, you're underpaid.

Ash Hinkle
Ash Hinkle

Are you seriously blaming impoverished people whos employer is stealing from them?

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

and what better way to show how much you are worth to your employer than to take a day off and protest them. i'd fire all these asshats.

Christopher Campbell
Christopher Campbell

If they served mcmuffin's all day I could see the pay increase justified.

Ted Yancey
Ted Yancey

Pretty soon machines will take the place of half of these workers all because they whine about wanting more from a minimum wage job.

Tim Danneman
Tim Danneman

Yeah. This is the same McDonalds that screws up my order every time. Very fitting to picket outside this one.

gsp333
gsp333

By the way, is anyone MAKING these people work at McDonalds?  I think not.

gsp333
gsp333

For $15 an hour does anyone think they'll get your order correct?  I get the same cup of Joe every morning with the same amount of creamer/sugar yet it tastes different daily.  And when I do order food I'd say no less than 1/3 of the time it's incorrect. 

You want 15 an hour?  WORK like you've earned it instead of feeling entitled to it.
By the way, MOST people see fast food as a starting point for a career, not a livelihood.  I do understand however you Kool Aid drinkers (thanks to our President) has made you feel you're "owed" something.  
 
American owes no one an opportunity, America IS the opportunity so make the best of it. 

Theresa A. Boettler
Theresa A. Boettler

Really 15 dollars an hour for taking an order. Then I shall be paid $30 an hour for a trained and skilled ophthalmic technician!!!

Patricia Powell
Patricia Powell

Its called work more then one job. Life does not stop for many of us who make a decent wage WITH education. I work more then 40 almost always. Before I had this job I had 3 working 70 hours a week. It is a stepping stone job nothing more.

John Lister
John Lister

This is America, no matter what job you have....do it with pride!

Clyde Rhoads
Clyde Rhoads

If these allocations are true, it is only fair that McDonalds would have to pay up. However, workers are adults. Why doesn't anyone speak out to higher management about these wrongdoings before it gets to this level. I've worked fast food, and part of orientation addresses the [il]legalities of working off the clock and such.

Margaret Keller
Margaret Keller

My taxes should not be supplementing McDonald's profits. If you want a Big Mac, pay for it with your own money, stop using my money to keep those burgers artificially low. Same at Wal-Mart. I'm tired of subsidizing billionaires who refuse to pay their workers a living wage and tell them to apply for food stamps instead of giving them a raise.

Jeff Willett
Jeff Willett

I believe McD's could afford to give people a decent wage and make 5.99 billion a year profit and survive.

Mandy Paris
Mandy Paris

If you don't think McDonald's employees (or anyone else in a service job) should receive a living wage, then you'd better be happy to supplement the income for McDonald's so their employees can live-- and don't complain about welfare recipients.

Autumn Pickard
Autumn Pickard

You can make 15 dollars an hour wiping asses at a nursing home...

Autumn Pickard
Autumn Pickard

How much did a gallon of gas cost back when you "earned" it? How much did a credit hour of college cost back when you "earned" it? How much money did it take to feed yourself back when you "earned" it?

Rebecca Wagner Smith
Rebecca Wagner Smith

McD's brings in a profit of almost $6 BILLION a year. I think we should expect that to support individuals with a family.

wolfoffl
wolfoffl

I see the mouth-breathing, Faux News watching crew is out in full force today regurgitating propaganda told to them by their masters.
What a bunch of maroons.

Letha Adkirson
Letha Adkirson

Allura Fette, the subject was should fast food workers make $15 an hour. You and your family are very fortunate. Also I'm sure you and T-One have other means of support.

Jeff Willett
Jeff Willett

At $15 an hour exactly what college degree did you need?

Sara Hughes
Sara Hughes

It actually IS legal to require an employee to cover drawer shortages, but it cannot cause their wages to fall below minimum. Same for uniforms, etc. I agree that illegal practices should be stopped, but I disagree with a $15/hour wage in this industry for entry-level workers. While a place like McDonalds should be able to sustain that, the many small businesses that rely on a similar workforce cannot.

Ellen Bond
Ellen Bond

That's standard practice, keep your eyes on the register at ALL times, basic common sense.

Dave Newkirk
Dave Newkirk

The mcdonalds in florissant cross keys center is obscenely bad. I mean rude, moronic, down-right brain dead. Just saying. Awful.

Tessa Smith
Tessa Smith

When you "earned" your way up the corporate ladder is exactly when you completely lost touch with those below your status and nose.

Jeff Willett
Jeff Willett

You're welcome. This protest, while connected in some ways to increased wage demands, is about wage theft.

optinstl
optinstl topcommenter

Employers DO owe their workers livable wages, sustainable jobs, decent working conditions, and a whole lot more.  That there are not more laws protecting workers is ridiculous.  And people deserve a livable wage for their time and effort.  Why is it okay for an employer to run background checks and spy on workers but we cannot check the employer the same.  I have worked for companies that went bankrupt, that were owned by felons, that stole from their employees by never having payroll in the account or paying their taxes on time.  What you seem to be saying is that you agree with the current set of laws, and they work for you.  They don't work for a lot of us, so we are going to change those things.  It's too bad that you see that as "entitled."  I am really sorry that you are either so independently wealthy or well paid that you do not understand that better wages and working conditions would be better for ALL of us.  If the minimum wage had risen with inflation it would be $10.86 an hour.  In the last forty years, I will tell you what pay scale has gone up-- executive salaries and bonuses.  From a 20-1 ratio (the executive makes 20 times what the average worker does) in 1965, to 273-1 now (and it is actually going down.  It was in the 300's in 2000).  Worker's have been underpaid and executives have been getting more and more pay.  If the executives don't come to work, the hamburgers still get made.  If the workers don't show up, no work gets done.  So who is entitled?  Really?  Actually you are right, the workers ARE entitled (and they are not adolescents-- please, look at the people making your food and serving you sometime!).  I am glad that workers are realising they are ENTITLED TO LIVABLE WAGES!

gothic_faerie07
gothic_faerie07

It's not just "entitled adolescents." It's also single parents in their 30's and above. It's people who literally cannot find anything else, but still can't survive because they don't earn enough.

optinstl
optinstl topcommenter

Yes, that is exactly what is shows them.  Firing a lot of people and hiring more is not cheap.  And if all the worker's ban together--well, then we have the power.  If the boss doesn't show up the work gets done.  If the workers don't show up then nothing gets done.  It's too bad you don't understand that Mr Mincer.  You would make a terrible boss.  A good boss knows that good employees create value.  You pay unlivable wages and don't give a good employee rights in the workplace he or she will go elsewhere. 

optinstl
optinstl topcommenter

Then let the machines have the jobs.  And it is not whining to want a livable wage. If these jobs are so unimportant than please, give them to the machines.  Human beings deserve work with dignity.  I can live without fast food, can you? I know one thing, the corporation cannot survive without both workers and consumers.  And if workers don't make enough to consume then maybe machines should do the job. And by the way, they are fighting for $15 so that it becomes the minimum wage, starting with McDonalds.  What is wrong with a livable minimum wage?  It would get rid of a lot of businesses that are profitable only because they underpay.  It would actually stimulate the economy by allowing workers to spend more. Bring the machines Mr Yancey.  Please. 

optinstl
optinstl topcommenter

Stop eating there then.  That's not the only Mc Donalds in the area. (I really have to wonder if you have indeed ever been to that McDonalds.) 

What they get paid is not the issue. 

gothic_faerie07
gothic_faerie07

@gsp333 Did it ever occur to you that most people that work at McDonalds do so because they have families to support, and that's all they could find?

optinstl
optinstl topcommenter

@gsp333 Should we all work like an executive to make million dollar salaries?  I've worked for executives.  None of them work as hard as someone flipping burgers.  "Owed something"?  You mean, like a livable wage?  What is wrong with that? But that's not really what it's about is it?  "Kool Aid drinkers".  That's something.  I love how the racists in this country are just coming right out in the open.  No one is making you eat fast food.  And we are making the best of it.  We Americans are creating the opportunity for people to make a liveable minimum wage.  Deal with it.

optinstl
optinstl topcommenter

That is awesome! That is exactly what you should be demanding!  You deserve decent pay for your work! I am glad you are on the same page as the workers. If wages had increased with inflation the minimum wage would be $10.68.  So your current $15 an hour would also have increased.  I am glad these workers inspired you!

optinstl
optinstl topcommenter

A stepping stone job for some but not for everyone.  And why don't "stepping stones" deserve livable wages?  It is too bad that you are so selfish you never considered making the "stepping stone" jobs you held better jobs for your inheritors!   Thank goodness these young people are doing something to make the world better for all of us, instead of just using everyone as a "stepping stone" to their own success.  Reading this thread, higher education seems to make people feel that they are only worthy if everyone they consider beneath them is earning a lot less money.  I hope you learn to value yourself more, and to make the world a better place for everyone and not just yourself.

optinstl
optinstl topcommenter

This is part of a larger movement for a livable minimum wage and the right to form a union- not just McDonald's employment practices.  These jobs are still seen as "teenager" jobs, but for many people it is their source of life long employment. These jobs (all jobs) deserve decent wages and unions.  It's not just McDonald's.

optinstl
optinstl topcommenter

And where did those big profits come from? Underpaying their workers for the last 40 years.

optinstl
optinstl topcommenter

Maybe.  I don't know where you are working, but that is not the average rate for that in Missouri.  When the minimum wage is $15 that pay rate will increase too.  It is win-win for all workers.

optinstl
optinstl topcommenter

If the minimum wage had increased with inflation it would be $10.86.  If it had increased with worker productivity it would be $21.72.  In the last 40 years workers have been paid less and less and producing more and more.  You know what increased instead? Executive salaries.  Oh, and consumer credit card debt ( to make up for the loss in wages).

optinstl
optinstl topcommenter

It is a shame that the fastest growing jobs are minimum wage, and more and more college graduates find themselves unable to find work that pays a decent salary.  So, you see, $15 an hour as a minimum wage is exactly what we need.  It really is the minimum.  More free higher education is another thing we should be fighting for.  It is terrible that people go to school for so long and end up saddled with debt when they graduate, often forcing them to take jobs that pay a low wage. And the fear of the debt often makes them work in terrible conditions, at "stepping stone" jobs, without complaint.  You see, these workers are looking at lifelong employment in fast food, so they are willing to risk something-- for everyone.  A higher minimum wage would benefit everyone-- even snobby, entitled college kids.

optinstl
optinstl topcommenter

Maybe those small business shouldn't be in business. If a business can't make it without paying a livable wage to their employees why do we need them?  People deserve a livable wage.  They deserve sustainable businesses.  Just because someone is a small business doesn't mean they are a good business.  I've worked for many small business that on a smaller scale, held roughly the same ratio as Wal Mart executives to worker salaries and benefits.  I keep hearing this excuse, but no one has shown me any concrete example.  What are these threatened small businesses? What do they sell?  How do they operate now? What do they pay? How much does the owner know about his business? etc

optinstl
optinstl topcommenter

Stop eating there then.  That's a management issue at that restaurant.  This is about wages and unions.  Workers have the right to that.  If you don't like the employees at that McDonalds complain to the manager or stop eating there.

gsp333
gsp333

Since when did becoming successful in this country become a  sin? 
Isn't that why people come to America? 

Do I feel McDonalds could pay more? Absolutely.  $15.00 an hour? Absolutely not. 

optinstl
optinstl topcommenter

Do you mean this particular protest?  It was part of a world wide movement to demand higher wages and the right to form a union.  Yes, it is wage theft to underpay your workers while raking in huge profits and paying obscene executive salaries.

gsp333
gsp333

@gothic_faerie07


It's not realistic to have the expectation that McDonalds can actually pay a living wage.  
I wager that when people get hired at McDonalds they KNOW this.   
I'd also bet none of them when growing said  "Gee when I get older I want to work at McDonalds"
I understand it's "slim picken's" when it come to finding job in this economy, however a demand for doubling your pay is not reasonable. 
  I'd say most Americans would support a higher minimum wage, but when you demand doubling your current pay they lost most of us.  


 

optinstl
optinstl topcommenter

@gsp333 It's not becoming successful that is a "sin" it is HOW you become successful.  Profits should not matter more than people.  Executive pay should not be rising to obscene levels when full time workers are on welfare.  I hope you understand that this is not just about McDonald's -- this is part of a larger movement to make $15 the minimum wage.  It is not "Success" to underpay people.  It was not "success" when manufacturing corporations began moving jobs overseas for cheaper labour.  If a company is really "succesful" it pays a decent wage.

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