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O'Hare Airport Employees Join Minimum Wage Fight

By aaroncynic in News on Sep 30, 2015 5:30PM

Photo via Fight for 15 Chicago

Suburban fast food workers and airport employees both joined the ‘Fight For $15’ movement this week, with separate rallies taking place at O’Hare International Airport and and Oak Park Village Board meeting.

On Wednesday, dozens of fast food workers and their allies spoke out at a McDonald’s in Oak Park before heading to the board meeting where they called on the Village Board to raise the town’s minimum wage. Voters backed a "living wage" referendum in 2009 for village employees and contractors, and though the board has had some discussions, no action has been taken, according to the Tribune. Demonstrators urged board members to bring an ordinance to a vote in the future.

“Over 60 percent of our community who voted, voted that our community should have a living wage,” said the Rev. Alan Taylor, of Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation. “It has not been acted upon. It's at the core an issue of human dignity. Our wider community has such a gap between those who can afford what they wish and those who struggle.”

Anthony Kemp, who’s been a cook at Kentucky Fried Chicken for 9 years, said in a statement that suburban workers need higher wages as much as workers who live in major cities:

“As a 44-year-old man, making $8.25, living paycheck to paycheck and barely being able to survive, just isn’t right. I love to cook. I love what I do for a living. That’s why we’re calling for fair wages for fast food workers in Chicago’s suburbs. From Oak Park to Cicero, to Sauk Village to Barrington Hills, we need this.”

Photo via Leesa Allmond
Meanwhile, security officers, janitors and other service workers at O’Hare airport rallied on Tuesday to announce their call for $15 and union rights. Organizers say that despite the city’s slight uptick in the minimum wage recently ($10 an hour as of July), airport workers are still hit hard by poverty wages, particularly tipped workers. Tipped workers currently make $5.45 an hour and if their wages don’t meet the minimum, an employer is technically required to make up the difference. Due to inaccurate reporting however, this often does not happen.

“I can make ends meet for my family right now with my current salary," O'Hare Airport Worker Jason Davis said in a statement from the Service Employees International Union. "But a raise to $15 and healthcare benefits would help me really invest in my children’s future.