More than a hundred fast food workers and their supporters protested in Chicago Tuesday to call for a national minimum wage of $15 an hour along with the right to unionize.
The group gathered early Tuesday morning outside the McDonald’s at Milwaukee and Western shouting “hold your burgers, hold your fries, make our wages supersized.”
“It basically means poverty,” said Solo Littlejohn, who makes $8.25 an hour as a cook for Kentucky Fried Chicken. “We have to make sacrifices. There are places where we cannot get the simple things that we need. Simple things like body wash, shampoo… simple things we should have to go without.”
The Fight for 15 movement sponsored marches like the one in Chicago in 270 cities nationwide, hoping to become a powerful political bloc with the presidential elections nearly a year away.
By mid-morning protesters marched from Milwaukee and Western to a McDonald’s at 356th Street and Indiana.
“As a single parent with one child I need at least $22 an hour,” said Mary Hood, who earned $10.50 an hour at McDonald’s. “At least at $15 [an hour] I can do more. With what I am making now I can barely do anything.”
McDonald’s raised wages at company-owned restaurants in July to $1 more than the locally mandated minimum wage; it also created new learning opportunities for employees, the company said.
“Generally speaking, the topic of minimum wage goes well beyond McDonald's - it affects our country's entire workforce,” McDonald’s said in a statement Tuesday. “McDonald's and our independent franchisees support paying our valued employees fair wages aligned with a competitive marketplace. We believe that any minimum wage increase should be implemented over time so that the impact on owners of small and medium-sized businesses - like the ones who own and operate the majority of our restaurants - is manageable. We respect people's right to peacefully protest, and our restaurants remain open every day with the focus on providing an exceptional experience for our customers."
But protesters said Tuesday’s march was about more than just minimum wage – adding that it was also about racial and economic justice.
That’s why the group says it marched to Chicago Police headquarters Tuesday afternoon and called for the firing of Dante Servin, the officer who shot and killed 22-year-old Rekia Boyd three years ago.
The Chicago agency responsible for investigating allegations for police misconduct recommended in September that Servin be fired for the fatal off-duty shooting. Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy is expected to determine if Servin will remain on the force.