Undeterred by wind and rain, dozens of fast-food workers and community activists gathered early Thursday morning outside the so-called Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonald’s in downtown Chicago, calling for wages of $15 per hour and better working conditions.
The strike is the latest in a series of protests over the past 18 months in the United States, which have targeted fast-food restaurant operators, including McDonald’s Corp. and Burger King Worldwide Inc.
The job action comes at a time when U.S. Democrats have been mounting efforts to raise the federal minimum wage ahead of this year’s midterm congressional elections, seeing income inequality as a powerful campaign issue.
Fast-food workers are seeking $15 an hour and the right to unionize without retaliation, union leaders said.
McDonald’s, the world’s biggest restaurant chain by revenue, and Burger King have defended their treatment of employees, saying they pay fair wages.
Jessica Davis, 25, a single mother of two who earns $8.98 an hour as a crew trainer at a Chicago McDonald’s restaurant, said she needs more to make ends meet.
“I’m tired of making so much money for this company and they can’t give me a decent wage and decent hours,” said Davis, who has four years on the job, but relies on family and public assistance. “I don’t think we should have to live this way.”
The strike will hit 150 cities, including Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Miami.
President Barack Obama has pushed Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from the current $7.25, a move fought by congressional Republicans.
Twenty-one states and Washington, D.C. have minimum wages set higher than the federal minimum wage, and 38 states have considered minimum-wage bills during the 2014 session, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The state of Washington has the highest minimum wage, at $9.32 an hour.