"Ronald McDonald is here to stay" says McDonald's CEO as he gets grilling from shareholders
McDonald's shareholders defied executives at its annual meeting on Thursday, approving a proposal to make it easier to nominate directors to the board of the fast-food chain and taking its new CEO to task over wages, advertising and its food.
There were also repeated requests from shareholders that McDonald's stop using Ronald McDonald, Happy Meals and other promotions geared to appeal to children
However McDonald's Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook, who has vowed to transform the iconic chain into a "modern, progressive burger company," dismissed calls to retire the company mascot. "Ronald is here to stay," he said.
Mr Easterbrook, who took the helm at the start of March, is fighting on numerous fronts as he works to turn around the company, which saw profit and revenue fall in 2014 after service times slowed and nimbler rivals picked off customers with menus that appeal to growing appetites for fresher, less-processed food.
Despite opposition from McDonald's, 61pc of voting shareholders said yes to a proposal that would make it easier for long-term investors to list director candidates on company proxy materials.
The UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust brought the proxy access proposal before investors because "McDonald's board needs to be more accountable for these performance lapses," the Trust's Corporate Governance Director Cambria Allen said at the meeting, which was closed to media but accessible via webcast.
Thousands of protesters swarmed McDonald's headquarters for two days of rallies that are part of a multi-year, union-supported campaign for better wages and working conditions at the world's biggest restaurant chain.