Fast food workers demanding “supersized” wages walked off their jobs Thursday morning in dozens of U.S. cities — with protesters in New York and Detroit arrested after sitting in the street. The workers, from fast food giants such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King, are calling for at least $15 an hour — what they consider to be a livable wage. The labor unions supporting them say the demonstrations would be peaceful in the estimated 150 cities, including Chicago, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, where protests are occurring.
Workers outside of a Manhattan McDonald’s in Times Square chanted and held signs saying, “On strike to lift my family up.” Police hauled away at least 19 people causing gridlock in the middle of a busy street, according to labor organizers. A similar sit-down in the street was also occurring in Detroit, where several people were arrested, NBC affiliate WDIV reported. Meanwhile, 19 people in Chicago were detained and cited for blocking an intersection, while at least 10 protesters were similarly arrested in San Diego, according to NBC San Diego.
McDonald’s said Thursday that it supports people’s right to peacefully protest, but that the minimum wage would need to be increased 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.”
The “Fight for $15” campaign got a boost this week from President Barack Obama, who mentioned it during a Labor Day appearance in Milwaukee. “If I were busting my butt in the service industry and wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, I’d join a union,” Obama said.
— Erik Ortiz and Sue Kroll
First published September 4 2014, 7:01 AM