McDonald's workers protest wage theft

Tampa, FL - Protesters rallied outside McDonald's over alleged claims the company and its franchisees were not paying their workers for hours they worked.

"Hey, hey, ho, ho, wage theft has got to go!" they chanted.

Several made speeches about why they stood outside the Tampa McDonald's off Bearss and I-275.

"I used to work here and I was asked to come in for meetings, unpaid, on my own time," said Yves Higgins.

Higgins said he used to make $7.80 an hour at the McDonald's.

"We made so little on top of the fact that they were not paying us for hours they required us to come in for," said Higgins.

Other protesters who do not even work for McDonald's were out there, because they support the cause.

"I am angry with McDonald's for not paying people what they could; for not really helping people that work for them, live decently and with dignity," said protester Chuck Leigh, a bishop for a local Catholic Church. "There are so many people at my church who work for minimum wage and they should be paid fairly."

Protesters have been expressing their anger across the country for months, resulting in seven class action lawsuits in New York, California and Michigan. McDonald's said it is reviewing the alleged claims that restaurants are not paying their employees properly -- shaving hours off their times cards, forcing employees to work off the clock and not paying them overtime.

The company released a statement to the media on the allegations Tuesday:

'McDonald's and our independent owner-operators share a concern and commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald's restaurants. We are currently reviewing the allegations in the lawsuits. McDonald's and our independent franchisees are committed to undertaking a comprehensive investigation of the allegations and will take any necessary actions as they apply to our respective organizations. Our restaurants remain open today -- and every day -- thanks to our dedicated employees serving our customers." - Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem, McDonald's Global External Communications

"We take the policy of paying wages for hours worked very seriously. In fact, we pay our employees for meetings and even classes, in addition to a wide range of benefits. This former employee has never expressed any complaints or issues to me or my staff regarding wages." - Blake Casper, local McDonald's Owner/Operator.

Photos from the protest in NYC:

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