Fast food workers from across Chicago are joining those in other cities across America in a one-day walkout to press their demand for a higher minimum wage.
Organizers want a minimum of $15 an hour, plus changes in working conditions; Illinois’ current minimum wage is $8.25 an hour; the national average for fast food workers is about $9.00.
On Thursday morning, there were so many protesters that they blocked traffic on 87th Street between State and Wabash. Police have arrested at least a dozen people.
Two months ago, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that McDonald’s shares the responsibility for working conditions at its franchised restaurants, as well as its company-owned locations.
One of Chicago’s biggest protests is outside the McDonald’s at 87th and S. Wabash Ave.; McDonald’s employee Jessica Davis says, “We’ve been going strong for two years now; we’re just escalating our fight. We’re going to do whatever it takes nonviolently, peacefully, to get our message across. We’re not backing down; we’re here demanding $15 an hour and a union, to take care of our families.”
The traditional business model of fast food restaurants has been to offer minimum-wage jobs to teenagers to give them access to the job market and give them workplace experience; but teenagers have been largely crowded out of those jobs by people over age 20, many of whom have children.