Hundreds of fast food workers plan to strike and protest across the country on Thursday, the latest step in their push for a $15 hourly wage, organizers said Monday.
The plans, discussed by organizers on Monday’s U.S. Labor Day holiday, include preparing to participate in civil disobedience. The workers involved are willing to be arrested as they try to get their message across, organizers involved in the Fight for $15 movement said. The effort is supported by the Service Employees International Union.
A number of workers from chains including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC and Domino’s plan to participate in the protests, along with community supporters, organizers said.
In May, 101 McDonald’s workers were peacefully arrested for trespassing at a protest outside the company’s Oak Brook headquarters. Since then, the so-called Fight for $15 campaign has continued to raise awareness of its goals of unionizing fast food workers and raising their wages to $15 an hour.
The latest push comes after hundreds of fast-food workers gathered in Illinois for a two-day convention in late July. Days after the convention, the National Labor Relations Board dealt a blow to McDonald’s, saying that the company shares responsibility for working conditions with its franchisees, who operate the majority of its restaurants.
Douglas Hunter, who said he has worked at a McDonald’s on West Chicago Avenue for five years, is among those preparing for the strike. While his wages of $9.25 an hour top Illinois’ minimum wage of $8.25 an hour, Hunter said that his hours have been reduced and he is paid about $350 every two weeks.
“I’m really struggling trying to make ends meet,” Hunter said by phone on Monday. “I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to get McDonald’s to the table to discuss increasing my pay to $15 an hour.”
McDonald's was not immediately available to comment on Monday evening.
In the past, McDonald’s has said that its franchisees are independent owner-operators who set their own policies. The restaurant leader has also said that it respects employees’ right to choose whether they want to unionize and that it offers “competitive pay based on the local marketplace and job level.”
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