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Workers Fighting For A Higher Minimum Wage Froze Rush-Hour Traffic In Protest

By aaroncynic in News on Apr 15, 2016 4:33PM

More than a thousand low wage workers descended on the Magnificent Mile Thursday evening as part of a global one-day strike demanding higher wages and union rights for those in underpaid jobs.

After spending a large part of the morning and early afternoon on the North Side near Loyola University’s campus, which included a shut down of an entrance to Lake Shore Drive, workers with the Fight For 15 movement began a second set of marches in one of the wealthiest areas of Chicago.

The late afternoon protest began in the shadow of Park Tower on Chicago near Michigan Avenue where Ken Griffin—CEO of Citadel LLC and Illinois’ wealthiest person—keeps a penthouse apartment. Citadel has owned and traded millions in McDonalds stock over the years, raking in huge profits. The group of demonstrators, made up of fast food, nursing home, warehouse, adjunct university faculty, students, airport, building maintenance and other low wage retail workers chanted and sang while well-dressed onlookers gawked at the demonstration, which featured a heavy police presence.

“McDonald’s, McJobs, and their wages cost us all,” said Angel Mitchell, a McDonald’s employee. “I am a working tax payer dependent on public assistance, tax dollars that would be used to fund our public schools, universities, child care centers, and home care for our seniors and the disabled. McJobs are affecting us all while the wealthy one-percent indulge in bad, unacceptable, and unethical poverty wage paying business practices.”

The workers first took over Michigan Avenue and then slowly snaked their way down Huron towards the Rock and Roll McDonald’s, a frequent target of protests by fast food workers. On the way, they briefly stopped at a Bank of America location to chant “banks got bailed out, we got sold out.” The financial giant controls more than $2 billion worth of shares in the fast food chain.

“We cannot keep allowing McDonald’s to borrow money to pay shareholders and billionaires like Ken Griffin. “Instead, they should be using that money to pay us a living wage,” Mitchell told a sea of demonstrators from a flatbed truck in front of the chain’s location on Clark Street in River North.

As demonstrators marched in a large circle around the block, they were joined by a mariachi band in front of the Best Western hotel. Five people were taken into police custody after dropping a banner off the rooftop that read "McJobs Cost Us All."

Dominique Bouie, a warehouse worker who manufactures McDonald's McCafe cups and makes $8.25 an hour, told the crowd that workers had to line up at 3:00 a.m. to be sorted, and even after the complex process they may not even work for the day.

"We're making $8.25 standing there processing cups all night long and all day. Then they look us and tell us they can't afford to pay us $15 an hour. McDonald's is a multi-billion dollar company. Do you know what it means to tell people you can make a dollar menu or two for five and satisfy your customers but not satisfy your workers who made it possible?"