Workers from New York City to Sao Paulo and Tokyo joined together Wednesday to protest low wages and demand pay rises to $15 an hour for employees at chains like McDonald's and Burger King. The mass mobilization reached 236 American cities and 35 countries around the world, organizers told Mic.
"Raising the minimum wage is one of the single most effective tools we have to attack income inequality in our city, and there is no reason to delay an increase of up to $15 per hour," New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said in a statement supporting the #Fightfor15 movement. "The question should no longer be whether the minimum wage should be increased in New York City, but by how much."
Overseas, officials at the European Union accused some of the world's biggest companies of systemically manipulating tax codes, often moving their holdings from country to country in order to avoid paying higher rates.
"Companies like McDonald's are amongst the largest employers of the world. But their business practices often include an unholy alliance of very low wages and very low tax payments," EU parliament member Jutta Steinreck of Germany said in a statement from headquarters in Brussels.
In an email, McDonald's spokeswoman Terri Hickey told Mic the scope of the demonstrations was overstated and that, "historically — out of approximately 800,000 people who work in McDonald's restaurants — there have only been about 10 to 15 actual McDonald's workers who have participated in these staged events."
This, Hickey wrote, "is based on direct data from all of our restaurants and confirmed by our regional staff."
On April 1, McDonald's announced plans to raise the average hourly wage for 90,000 of its employees to at least $10 per hour by the end of 2016. But, as critics note and McDonald's concedes, that will only effect 1 in 10 storefronts nationwide. The 3,100 franchises with looser ties to the corporation will not be compelled to make similar concessions.
So on this Tax Day 2015, the demonstrations kicked off early, the first sightings came from Auckland, New Zealand, and Japan, and have continued into the later afternoon, as demonstrations for a living wage continue on the U.S. west coast.
Here are 39 powerful photos from the ground:
New York City
Miami, Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida
Asheville, North Carolina
(Note: Boston laborers held their protests on Tuesday in deference to April 15 memorial tributes to those killed in the Boston Marathon bomb attack.)