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Officials of industry trade associations and restaurant chains continue to push back against the protesters demands.

“Today’s effort by a number of union front groups is yet more theater orchestrated by organized labor, for organized labor,” said Bill Thorne, senior vice president of the National Retail Federation, the parent of the National Council of Chain Restaurants. “The law is clear: if employees want to unionize, they can. But they are not, so unions are paying high-priced public relations firms and work centers to conduct disruptive labor activities, which would be otherwise prohibited if organized by unions themselves.

“Today’s publicity stunt is just further proof that the labor movement is not only facing depleted membership rolls, they simply have no role in an honest and rational discussion about the American workforce,” he said.

Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s Corp. responded to the strikes with a statement saying, “The story promoted by the individuals organizing these events 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.”

Demonstrators gather outside the McDonald's on Fifth Avenue and 34th Street in New York.

The statement went on to say that McDonald's offers competitive pay and benefits to employees while providing training and professional development for employees 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.”

The National Restaurant Association sounded a similar note. Scott DeFife, executive vice president of Policy and Government Affairs for the NRA, said the industry “provides opportunity to over 13 million Americans with jobs that meet critical needs within our economy. We welcome a national discussion on wages, but it should be based on facts…The fact is only 5 percent of restaurant employees earn the minimum wage and those that do are predominantly working part-time and half are teenagers.”

Contact Paul Frumkin at paul.frumkin@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @NRNPaul