CHICAGO (WLS) --A series of labor protests for the "Fight for $15" movement were held in Chicago and across the country Thursday. The participating groups - which include fast food workers, nursing home, childcare and home healthcare workers, and per diem academic faculty, among others - are demanding the minimum wage be raised to $15. Fast food workers are also demanding union rights.
Protesters gathered in Water Tower Park at Michigan and Chicago for an afternoon demonstration, then walked across the street to the condo building at 800 North Michigan Avenue to deliver a letter to Ken Griffin, Illinois' richest person. Griffin owns one million shares of McDonald's stock. The letter says he and people in his economic group need to be more accountable and need to listen to what their workers have to say.
Hundreds, perhaps even a thousand, demonstrators marched to the Rock 'n Roll McDonalds where they were joined by union workers for another rally. At least were arrested when a giant banner was dropped from the roof of a building to the south of the McDonalds. Overall, the protest has been very peaceful.
"We are under the thumb of the same kinds of forces that are wealthy that are holding back funding from the state universities, and we understand that we're all part of the same struggle," said Linda Lowe who works at Northwestern University.
Demonstrations began early Thursday morning at a McDonalds on the South Side, where people blocked traffic and claimed solidarity with other low-wage workers.
Later, the protest moved to Loyola University on the North Side. The groups are all demanding a living wage.
"Economic justice is one of the biggest problems of our times. And regardless of what our religious or spiritual tradition is, that's a core principal of all of our faith practices," said Father Brian Savage of Parliament of the World's Religions.
"We have to work across industries to stand in solidarity and to recognize we all suffer from precarious work conditions," said Andrew Yale, an adjunct professor of humanities. "I live from paycheck to paycheck."
The marchers then moved south down Broadway to one of Chicago's busiest intersections where Sheridan, Hollywood and the top of Lake Shore Drive meet. There they snarled traffic for miles, sitting down in the intersection and making their case.
"This is a protest about human rights. Really, I mean, we are working with vulnerable people every day and we are paid poverty wages, can barely support our own families" says Lakesia Collins, a nursing home worker. She says she often has trouble making ends meet.
"[It's] very hard," she says. "I got to choose which bills to pay each paycheck."
"The reality is if you look around a lot of the people here are in their mid-20s, 30s and early 40s, still working at McDonalds. We have to address the reality," says fast food worker Angel Mitchell.
During the afternoon rush, groups plan to march on the Magnificent Mile. The demonstrations could flood into the street and block traffic.
Wednesday, SEIU Healthcare Illinois nursing home workers, childcare and home healthcare workers rallied and marched as part of the Fight of 15 movement, going to two nursing homes on the North Side and accusing Governor Bruce Rauner of "holding the budget hostage in an effort to drive wages and benefits down into the dirt."