Low-Wage Workers Continue Push for $15/Hour Minimum Wage

Action that started in Chicago's River North neighborhood is part of a national day of action, activists say

An employee at a downtown BP gas station closed the store and walked off the job early Thursday to join a group of fast food workers demanding an increase to the minimum wage.

"It was time to fight. It was time to get something done. We need to make a movement to go ahead and get that $15 living wage," said Daryel Eatmonds.

The Chicago City Council earlier this week voted to hike the minimum wage within city limits to $13 an hour by 2019, but the protesters maintained that increase isn't big enough and takes too long to be phased in.

"[The protest] was necessary. It was something we need right now," Eatmonds said.

The low-wage workers and their supports began protesting at the McDonald's restaurant at 600 North Clark Street in the city's River North neighborhood early in the morning as part of a national day of protest.

"At this point what we're looking at is just making sure workers here in Chicago can not only survive but thrive," Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) said after joining the protest at about 7:30 a.m.

The City Council's vote could ultimately by trumped by action by state lawmakers. Some legislators are pushing for a law that would prohibit cities from setting a minimum wage higher than the state level.

Illinois senators on Wednesday approved a proposal to increase the state's minimum wage to $11 for workers 18 and older by 2019. That bill wouldn't impact Chicago's ordinance.

Illinois voters last month approved a non-binding ballot question asking whether the station should raise its minimum wage to $10 from $8.25 by 2015.

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