(WMC) - A union is just one of the things that fast food workers are demanding from their employers.
Relatively small in number, a group of McDonald's workers made a lot of noise Friday outside of one of two highly visible Union Avenue restaurants. Protestors have targeted McDonald's for months.
Some, including three people from Memphis, were arrested in May during a demonstration at the chain's corporate headquarters near Chicago.
The protesters are fighting for a wage increase that would make them $15 per hour. They are also asking for the opportunity to organize into labor unions.
"I will do whatever it takes, whenever it takes, how long it takes, for McDonald's to wake up and realize this is a struggle," McDonald's employee Antonio Cathey said.
Workers are using a ruling made this week by National Labor Relations Board as leverage.
"Saying that McDonald's corporation is responsible for the conditions, employment conditions of its franchisees," said Sheena Foster, Workers Interfaith Network.
McDonald's stated that local level restaurants are responsible for serving up employment decisions.
The people protesting hope that customers will join their fight.
McDonald's sent the following statements in response to the demonstrations:
McDonald's serves its 3,000 independent franchisees' interests by protecting and promoting the McDonald's brand and by providing access to resources related to food quality, customer service, and restaurant management, among other things, that help them run successful businesses. This relationship does not establish a joint employer relationship under the law.
This decision to allow unfair labor practice complaints to allege that McDonald's is a joint employer with its franchisees is wrong. McDonald's will contest this allegation in the appropriate forum.
McDonald's also believes that this decision changes the rules for thousands of small businesses, and goes against decades of established law regarding the franchise model in the United States. McDonald's, as well as every other company involved in franchising, relies on these existing rules to run successful businesses as part of a system that every day creates significant employment, entrepreneurial and economic opportunities across the country.
McDonald's does not direct or co-determine the hiring, termination, wages, hours, or any other essential terms and conditions of employment of our franchisees' employees – which are the well-established criteria governing the definition of a "joint employer." -- Heather Smedstad , Senior Vice President Human Resources, McDonald's USA
McDonald's and our independent owner-operators share a concern and commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald's restaurants. McDonald's and our independent franchisees believe that any minimum wage increase should be implemented over time so that the impact on small and medium business owners is manageable. Additionally, we believe that any increase needs to be considered in a broad context, one that considers, for example, the impact of the Affordable Care Act and its definition of "full time" employment, as well as the treatment, from a tax perspective, of investments made by businesses owners."
"It's important to know approximately 90% of our U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by small to mid-sized business owners who set wages according to local and federal laws and also based upon job level. McDonald's does not determine wages set by our more than 3,000 U.S. franchisees. -- Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem, McDonald's Global External Communications
"The demonstration today does not provide an accurate picture of what it means to work at McDonald's. We respect the strong relationship which exists among McDonald's, our independent operators, and the employees who work in McDonald's restaurants. Our restaurants remain open, with our dedicated employees providing strong service to our customers.
McDonald's aims to offer competitive pay and benefits to our employees. We provide training and professional development for all of those who wish to take advantage of those opportunities. Our history is full of examples of individuals who worked their first job with McDonald's and went on to successful careers both within and outside of McDonald's.
McDonald's and our independent franchisees value the contributions that each of our employees make every day in the restaurants."