Fight for $15—the movement calling for livable wages and union rights for low-income workers—launched a worldwide day of action on Wednesday morning with walkouts and rallies across the globe, spanning more than 200 cities in the U.S. and 35 countries.
By early Wednesday morning, protests were already taking place in numerous locations, including New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, St. Louis, and Boston, among others. Workers blocked intersections in front of McDonald's restaurants and planned speeches, presentations, and marches throughout the day for what organizers say will be one of the biggest Fight for $15 days of action yet.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25, though it varies from state to state. Organizers chose April 15 not just because it is similar to their call—"For 15"—but because they wanted to use Tax Day to highlight how workers are paid so little that they are forced to rely on public assistance to survive.
"On Tax Day, fast-food workers from Pittsburgh to Pasadena will walk off the job, while adjunct professors, home care, childcare, airport, industrial laundry and Walmart workers will march and rally in what will be the most widespread mobilization ever by US workers seeking higher pay," organizers said in a statement.
Workers, who demonstrated under the banners of a broad coalition of organizations, including OUR Walmart, Jobs With Justice, D.C. Working Families, and several local unions, among other groups, emphasized the importance of raising wages as the cost of living in the U.S. soars.
In the nation's capital, workers marched with signs that read, "We Care for D.C." and chanted, "What's outrageous? Poverty wages!"
"In D.C., housing is getting more expensive, jobs are paying less and families are struggling to get by," said D.C. Working Families director Delvone Michael. "D.C. is facing its widest wage gap in 35 years and workers need $15 an hour, if they want to be able to support their families in one of the country's most costly cities without relying on public assistance."
Further north, protesters in New York blocked the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge and picketed a McDonald's in Flatbush.
"Everyone just wants to survive and work happily. Fifteen dollars and union is what any fast-food worker needs," one McDonald's worker from Boston, Darius Cephas, told the Guardian. "I am not saying that everything will be better, but it will be livable. It will be manageable."
Underscoring the solidarity among two growing movements across the U.S., many actions were also joined by Black Lives Matter activists calling for justice over recent police killings of unarmed black men and women.
EDITOR's NOTE: You might be surprised to find out, but the Fast Food Forward, and larger low-wage worker movements have actually been assembling themselves for years. Check out some of our earliest coverage:
November 2011: New York's Fast Food Labor Rumble Takes Center Stage, a short compilation from our staff
SOLIDARITY - MJ