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Minimum Wage Workers Walk Out To Fight For 15

By aaroncynic in News on Aug 1, 2013 1:30PM

A second wave of protests to raise the minimum wage began in Chicago Wednesday with workers from the Fight for 15 movement and other labor organizations picketing two McDonald’s locations and Whole Foods on Halsted and Waveland. The Chicago protests are part of a larger national week of action, with rallies to raise the minimum wage and other strikes happening in Michigan, New York, Wisconsin and Missouri.

“We’ve got people working really long hours,” said Jose Rodriguez, a cashier at Whole Foods. Rodriguez and several other workers walked out of the store in the morning to join more than 100 people picketing out front. Rodriguez said he and other striking workers were looking for better wages for the work they do, as well as sick days and vacation time. Matthew Camp, another cashier at the location said, “We started organizing at this location against the points system. It’s an unfair attendance policy in which we don’t have sick days. Any reason why we miss a day of work goes on our records as a demerit.”

The fight to organize low wage workers has spread like wildfire across the country, with dozens of labor organizations organizing both national days of action and local strikes. Last week, more than 200 people protested in front of three different food and retail locations, demanding both better wages and fairer labor standards. Both organizers and workers say increased wages and benefits mean a healthier economy. In a press release, Carlos Cardenas, vice president of community organizing group ONE Northside said “The workers’ action will lift up all of Chicago. If they have more money in their pockets, they’ll spend it right here, helping to boost the entire economy.”

On Thursday, activists with the Fight For 15 movement and their allies plan to stage a series of protests beginning in the early morning and lasting all day at more than 20 locations throughout the Loop and Magnificent Mile.

Previous Chicagoist coverage of the Fight for 15 movement.