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Low Wage Workers Are Staging #FF15 Strikes All Over Chicago Today

By aaroncynic in News on Apr 14, 2016 3:41PM

via Aaron Cynic/Chicagoist

Hundreds of fast food and other low wage workers walked off the job and began demonstrations Thursday morning, joining thousands worldwide in a global one day strike for $15 and union rights in more than 300 cities.

Fast food workers, who were joined by teachers and adjunct professors and workers from airports, nursing homes, warehouses and elsewhere, began picketing and marching at a McDonald’s location on Chicago’s South Side on 79th Street, say the corporate behemoth rips off workers, taxpayers and communities. According to organizers, 51 percent of fast food workers are on some form of public assistance, which costs Illinois some $368 million each year. Nationwide, the cost of workers on public assistance to taxpayers adds up to about $7 billion a year. To highlight this, demonstrators marched from the fast food giant—the nation’s second largest private employer—to a nearby public school.

“We need a livable wage and union rights, Adriana Alvarez, an employee at a McDonald’s franchise, told Fox Chicago.

The Fight for 15 movement has made significant strides in recent years—cities such as Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles have all raised their minimum wages to $15 an hour, and were followed by both the states of California and New York in a similar wage increase this year. Chicago’s minimum wage too, has grown to $10 an hour and will continue to incrementally increase to $13 an hour by 2019. By then however, that will be just pennies above the poverty line.

Demonstrations are expected to take place throughout the day, with rallies at a McDonald’s near Broadway and Granville at 10 a.m., at Loyola University at 11 a.m., a staffing corporation near West Town at 2 p.m., culminating with a march from the penthouse of Illinois’ richest man, Ken Griffin, to the Rock and Roll McDonald's in River North beginning at 4 p.m.

Update: 3:30pm

After gathering at a McDonald's on Broadway near Granville on the city's North Side, fast food workers marched to Loyola University, where they were met by striking students, adjunct professors, and nursing home workers, as well as clergy members. Adjunct faculty have been demanding the recognition of their union. A study released last year by SEIU Faculty Forward, who are helping to organize adjunct faculty, shows that nearly a quarter of part time adjunct faculty members live below the poverty line.

“We're here to tell the administration to respect their union and to work with them, because when they do this will be a better university, not just for the students but for the faculty,” said a Loyola student who identified herself only as Joleye. “The faculty here are integral to this entire experience. Their working conditions are our learning conditions.”

“When my colleagues aren't making a living wage, that affects their students and that affects all of us,” said Devorah Schoenfeld, a theology professor who noted that she had tenure and that her job was not at risk. “When some of my best colleagues don't know in April at the end of the school year if they're going to be here next year, that effects all of us.”

“When this University doesn't pay people who work here a living wage, what is this teaching our students here about justice,” she asked a crowd of hundreds that assembled in the quad.

Clergy members representing several faiths held a prayer circle after the rally, and the group then marched south on Broadway, briefly walking through a McDonald's drive thru chanting “no justice, no peace!” before they headed north on Hollywood.

Demonstrators then marched towards the feeder ramp onto Lake Shore Drive from Hollywood Ave, where they staged a lively and celebratory sit in before marching towards a nearby nursing home to demand higher wages for caregivers.

Demonstrations will continue this evening beginning at Griffin's penthouse apartment. Griffin, Illinois' richest man, is CEO of hedge fund giant Citadel, which owns nearly 1 million shares in McDonalds.