Several hundred protestors shut down streets at two McDonald’s restaurant locations in Chicago Thursday, protesting low wages and arguing for their right to form a union without retaliation, Mark Guarino (@markguarino) reports from Chicago for the Guardian:
“We’re definitely on the upward move because we feel justice is on our side … we can’t wait,” said Douglas Hunter, a McDonald’s worker who said he has difficulty supporting his 16-year-old daughter on his hourly wage. “We think this is ridiculous in a country as rich as America.”
On the South Side in Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood, protestors locked arms and sat in the street for about 15 minutes until police dispersed them in the rain.
Nineteen people were arrested. The protestors sang the traditional labor song, “We Shall Not Be Moved,” and speakers, including two Chicago aldermen, spoke about the injustice of working a 40-hour week and still remaining in poverty.
Brittney Bell, a McDonald’s employee for three years, said she works for $8.25 per hour, which she says makes it impossible to raise her family. “I want to tell those who are afraid to step up because we deserve it, we work so hard … that’s the only way we’re going to get it,” she said.
In the afternoon, protestors showed up in west suburban Cicero, where 31 people were arrested and later charged with a misdemeanor, police said. Workers at both protests came from a variety of fast food restaurants and Nancy Salgado, a McDonald’s worker for 12 years, says she attended both rallies to add her voice to what she says is a growing chorus of “thousands and thousands of workers” nationally.
“We are working for a multi-billion dollar company that, year by year, they always make money and we are still living on poverty wages,” she said. “We are just asking for a little bit of that money coming in because of all the hard work that we do.”
In November, Illinois voters will be asked to vote on a referendum that will ask whether they favor increasing the statewide minimum wage to $10 an hour from $8.25.