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Hundreds of workers, organizers and supporters gather outside McDonald's Corp. on Thursday, in Oak Brook, Ill., calling for $15 an hour and the right to unionize.

McDonald’s CEO Says Fast-Food Jobs Can Lead To ‘Real Careers’

By Scott Neuman NPR

As hundreds of protesters loudly demanded higher wages outside McDonald’s headquarters in suburban Chicago, the company’s CEO told an audience inside that the fast-food giant has a heritage of providing opportunities that lead to “real careers.”

“We believe we pay fair and competitive wages,” Donald Thompson said at the company’s annual meeting on Thursday.

The annual meeting was held a day after more than 1,000 protesters, including many wearing McDonald’s uniforms, “stormed through the company’s campus entrance” in Oak Brook, Bloomberg writes. The Associated Press says 138 of them were arrested for refusing to leave the company’s property.

The protests are part of a larger movement that got underway in 2012 with demonstrations in New York City demanding $15 an hour for fast-food workers.

At the annual meeting, the subject of McDonald’s marketing to children was also brought up by speakers affiliated with Corporate Accountability International, AP says.

AP says:

“One mother from Lexington, Kentucky, Casey Hinds, said Ronald McDonald was ‘the Joe Camel of fast food.’

“Thompson responded that his own children ate the chain’s food and turned out ‘quite healthy,’ with his daughter even becoming a track star.

” ‘We are people. We do have values at McDonald’s. We are parents,’ he said.”

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