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More Than 100 McDonald's Workers Arrested In Protests Near Headquarters

Police arrested 139 protesters for "criminal trespassing" during demonstrations to demand a minimum wage of $15 an hour and the right to unionize.

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As the arrests were made, protesters chanted: "Hey McDonald's You Can't Hide, We Can See Your Greedy Side," and "No Big Macs, No Fries, Make our Wage Supersize."

Workers and activists say they have focused on McDonald's because of its size and influence.

AP Photo / Daily Herald, Bev Horne

"Workers are taking on the biggest, baddest, richest in the $200 billion fast-food industry," said Kendall Fells, leader of Fast Food Forward, a group which helped organize the protest. "If we can bring McDonald's to the table, the road ahead will be a lot easier."

"We can't treat corporations like people, and people like things," said Rev. Dr. William Barber II, head of the NAACP's North Carolina chapter, who led the march onto the sprawling McDonald's headquarters.

AP Photo / Daily Herald, Bev Horne

"A living wage is a moral mandate, and it's time for McDonald's to pay fast-food workers their just due now."

At Thursday's meeting, McDonald's CEO Don Thompson briefly mentioned the issue, even as 800 protesters marched outside in a second day of protests. Thompson defended McDonald's as a great first employer for young workers.

AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

"McDonald's is often a first job for many entering the workforce," Thompson said. "About one-third of our employees are 16 to 19."

Many protesters said they were angered and insulted by the remarks, as they have worked for McDonald's for more than 10 years and their work was not a start, but part of their career.

AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

"I've been working for McDonald's for 10 years, and my hourly paycheck is the same now as it was my first day on the job: $7.35," said Cherri Delisline, a mother of four from Charleston, S.C. "McDonald's can keep on saying that we are teenagers, but saying it over and over again doesn't make it true."

The median age of fast-food workers is 29 for all workers and 32 for women. About 70% of all workers are age 20 or older, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.

Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at michelle@buzzfeed.com.

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