Quick-service restaurant workers are expected to protest low wages Tuesday as the Fight for $15 movement enters its fifth year, organizers said Monday.
“Galvanized by the election and frustrated with an economy that is rigged for the rich, airport, fast-food, home care, higher education and child-care workers organized the massive demonstrations to mark the fourth anniversary of the Fight for $15, a movement that has won raises for 22 million Americans since it started in 2012,” Fight for $15 organizers said in a press release Monday.
Strikes and protests at McDonald’s and other quick-service restaurants are expected to begin early Tuesday morning, with one of the largest protests anticipated among workers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in the midst of post-Thanksgiving travel.
The organizers were expanding the movement to nearly 20 airports serving 2 million passengers a day and “risking arrest via mass civil disobedience in front of McDonald’s restaurants from Detroit to Denver,” they said on their website.
Betty Douglas, a McDonald’s worker from St. Louis, told Fight for $15 that she was still paid $7.90 an hour after eight years on the job.
“We are also protesting to reject the politics of divisiveness that tears America apart by race, religion, ethnicity and gender,” Douglas said. “And we won’t back down until the economy is fixed for all workers and we win justice for all people in our nation.”
Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, said in a call with members the protests were the “first steps together to fight back for our families and communities.”
SEIUhas been a principal supporter of the Fight for $15 movement, which began on Nov. 29, 2012, with 200 quick-service workers walking off their jobs at dozens of restaurants across New York City to support raising wages to $15 and the right to form a union without retaliation.
“Together we will keep fighting for $15 (an hour minimum wage), a union, racial, immigrant and environmental justice,” Henry said of the protests among restaurant workers, as well as those in healthcare, retail and maintenance.
Tuesday’s actions are also expected to include protests by airport baggage handlers and cabin cleaners at O’Hare, as well as Uber drivers in two dozen cities and hospital workers in Pittsburgh. Organizers last year expanded the protests to more than 270 cities, and they expect actions in 340 cities across 29 states and the District of Columbia this year.
Fight for $15 organizers said wages have increased above the federal level of $7.25 an hour for millions of workers in the past four years.
In the Nov. 8 balloting that elected Donald Trump as U.S. president, voters in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington approved phased-in state minimum wage increases. Voters in Maine and Flagstaff, Ariz., rejected the tip credit for wages, measures supported by the Restaurant Opportunities Center United workers’ rights group.