The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Hundreds Rally, 50 Arrested During Thursday 'Fight For 15' Strikes

By aaroncynic in News on Sep 5, 2014 7:30PM

Hundreds of fast food employees and supporters protested and 50 were arrested on strikes at McDonald’s locations on the South Side and in Cicero yesterday as part of a nationwide protest in more than 150 cities for higher wages and the right to form a union for minimum wage workers. Demonstrators lined both sides of 87th Street in Chatham Thursday morning, chanting “hold the burgers hold the fries, make our wages supersized” for about an hour before taking the street and briefly shutting it down.

“We committed ourselves to do whatever is necessary to bring this change about, to bring these corporations to the table,” said Douglas Hunter, a maintenance worker at a South Side McDonald’s. Hunter said that though he does the work of multiple people, he’s still being paid low wages for his work:

“Right now, the maintenance man does everything. He’s the landscaper, the roofer, the machine fixer, the cleaner upper, everything. They cut workers. They say the economy is bad. We were told the economy is getting better. We were struggling before the recession, we were struggling during the recession and we find ourselves struggling after the recession.”

Police detained, and later released, 19 demonstrators.

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) and Ricardo Munoz (22nd) joined the protests. “I believe that it is unconscionable that someone has to work 40 hours a week and still be considered living in poverty,” said Sawyer. “I think it’s just wrong that someone who works all these hours and all these years and yet not even be able to afford the food where they work. When people earn more, they spend more. When you hear big corporations say they can’t afford to pay $15 an hour, it’s just wrong.”

Cicero Police arrested and charged 31 demonstrators with misdemeanors for staging a sit-in in a busy intersection in front of a cluster of fast food restaurants. The “Fight for $15” movement has gained traction nationwide since its inception and has seen a series of victories recently. Speaking at a rally in Cicero, U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez said “they’re asking for $15 an hour. They’ve already accomplished that in Seattle, where the minimum wage is $15 an hour.”

Additionally, the National Labor Relations Board determined in July that the McDonald’s corporation is jointly responsible for the treatment of its workers at franchises. The company has long claimed that its franchise owners were solely responsible for worker’s conditions and wages.

Some 436 workers were arrested for various actions of civil disobedience at rallies nationwide. OJ McGee, a home care worker from the South Side said:

“I believe that whether you’re flipping burgers, working a cash register, or preparing a healthy meal for a senior or person with a disability, people who work hard should earn enough to cover basic necessities and provide for their families.”