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Thousands March In Chicago, Oak Brook For $15 Minimum Wage & Union Rights

By aaroncynic in News on May 24, 2017 5:02PM

Thousands of low wage workers marched in the Loop Tuesday afternoon to demand a $15 an hour wage and union rights. Despite the rain, the workers and their supporters made a soggy trek from Daley Plaza to Trump Tower, then over the river to the Rock and Roll McDonald’s for a short rally.

Calling McDonald's the “Trump of corporations,” they first snaked down Wacker Drive past Trump Tower, chanting “Ronald, Donald, you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side,” with several different groups of musicians intermixed in the march providing different a constant soundtrack.

In addition to local workers and a host of activist groups, fast food workers from across the country came to Chicago for the march, which took place one day ahead of McDonald’s annual shareholders meeting. Protests, which ran through Wednesday morning, began late Tuesday morning outside the West Loop location where the fast food giant is building its new corporate headquarters.

“It is despicable, it is wrong that the McDonald’s corporation and it’s shareholders reap billions in profits while its workers have to go and apply for the LINK card, Medicaid, have to ask for help to feed their kids,” 35th Ward Ald. Carlos Rosa told the crowd in the morning.

“As the biggest fast-food company, McDonald’s sets the bar for jobs and pay all across the economy,” said Tina Sandoval, a McDonald’s worker from Richmond, CA. “It’s time the company use its power to lift up working people across the country by paying $15 an hour and respecting our right to a union. We’re going to keep on marching until McDonald’s takes action.”

Marchers also linked struggles for better wages and union rights to struggles for racial, gender, and other movements for justice nationwide. A 2015 study from the National Employment Law Project showed high wage disparities among workers from marginalized communities. According to Fortune Magazine:

Even though women make up less than half of the overall U.S. workforce, they constitute 55% of all sub-$15 per hour wage earners. You find a similar misalignment for African American workers, who constitute almost 12% of the workforce but 15% of earners who make less than $15. Latino Americans are overrepresented in the sub-$15 category as well; they account for 23% of sub-$15 per hour earners in the U.S. but only 17% of all workers.

“With Donald Trump’s cuthroat budgets on the horizon, we’re going to have to earn more than $15 an hour just to survive,” Dr. Barbara Ransby, a historian and professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told the crowd in front of the Rock and Roll McDonald’s. “We have to link this struggle to the fight for quality public education, affordable housing, LGBTQIA folks, immigrants and undocumented brothers and sisters. Media pundits might say that’s not a coherent movement, that’s a laundry list. We say no, that’s a plan to win. We refuse to throw anybody under the bus.”