October 9, 2013
By Stephanie West
Chicago, Ill. – "Fight for $15" minimum wage protesters interrupted a speech by McDonald's USA President Jeff Stratton on Friday October 4th for several minutes, leading protestors to be escorted out of the event and threatened with arrest.
Stratton was the keynote speaker at the Union League Club's First Friday luncheon. Several female protesters interrupted Stratton soon after the speech began, asking how they could feed their children on their McDonald's salaries. In Illinois, the minimum wage is $8.25 an hour.
"I've been at McDonald's for 10 years," yelled Nancy Salgado, 26, who works at a McDonald's in Logan square.
"I've been at McDonald's for 40 years," Stratton replied, garnering scattered applause from the audience.
Stratton remained mostly silent during the protest. He later apologized for the interruption and gave a brief speech on the tenets of his approach to work and life, including faith and gratitude.
Fight for $15 protestors also gathered for a rally outside the club, chanting and carrying signs as lunch goers entered and excited the building.
Fight for $15 representatives said they bought tickets for 10 of members to attend the event. Salgado and six others were escorted out of the speech and held for more than an hour before they were released, proudly displaying their tickets for criminal trespassing.
The Fight for $15 movement has held protests nationwide since it took shape in late spring, with frequent demonstrations in large cities from New York to Los Angeles.
Stratton, 57, became president of McDonald's USA in November of 2012, tasked with boosting lagging sales. He had previously been responsible for design, operations, training, performance, training and security for the chain's nearly 34,000 restaurants.
Stratton began his career at McDonald's as a teenager behind the counter in a Detroit restaurant 40 years ago, making $1.60 an hour. He held a variety of positions in the U.S. market before being named president of its West division in 2001. He was soon named chief restaurant officer for McDonald's USA and took over the global position in 2005.