The national Fight for 15 movement has set its sights on Chicago as activists and workers continue to push for raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour.
From the South Side to the North Side, fast food workers joined with members of the Service Employees International Union and the Chicago Teachers Union in a march across the city Thursday.
The group arrived on foot and by bus where they marched from the McDonald’s at Clark and Devon streets in the city’s Edgewater neighborhood to the Loyola University Campus for a rally.
The group claims the current minimum wage is too hard to live on without public assistance.
Still, the Illinois Policy Institute opposes raising the mandated $15 minimum wage, saying it would lead to more unemployment as businesses would replace workers with automated food-dispensing kiosks.
“We proudly invest in the future of those who work in McDonald's restaurants," Lisa McComb, a spokesperson for McDonald's, said in a statement. "In addition to raising the minimum wage for employees at our company-owned restaurants, we also offer employees access to Archways to Opportunity, a set of programs McDonald’s pays for which helps them earn a high school diploma and get needed tuition assistance so they can work toward earning a college degree."
The Chicago protests are part of many being held across the country in states including, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington.
Currently, California and New York are on their way to raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour, but the idea faces headwinds in more conservative and rural states in the South and the Midwest.
Activists believe the movement is picking up steam.
"In the beginning, it looked impossible," said Alvin Major, a fast-food worker and leader of the Fight for $15 campaign. But now, "what happened in New York, in California, it's going to spread around the country."
Demonstrations at the Rock n' Roll McDonald's in the Loop Thursday night began at around 4:30 p.m.
Five people were taken into custody by the Chicago Police Department in connection with hanging a large banner from a hotel near the protest. Police went into the hotel and removed the banner before taking the protesters into custody.