Chicago fast food workers fight for higher pay in nationwide strike

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Thursday, May 15, 2014
Fast food workers fight for higher pay
Chicago fast food workers set to join their colleagues more than 100 other cities around the country to fight for higher pay

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago fast food workers joined their colleagues in more than 100 other cities around the country Thursday to fight for higher pay.

The protesters are calling for $15-an-hour wages and the right to form a labor union without retaliation.

"I want to give the world to my son, but I can't on minimum wage," said Adriana Alvarez, a fast food worker. "I need a living wage."

The campaign is being called a fight for fifteen.

"If I make more, then I wouldn't have to work two jobs and I could finally go to school," said Janah Bailey, a fast food worker.

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky stood with the workers in front of a McDonalds. She urged action in Washington, D.C. to raise the minimum wage nationally and large corporations to step up to help their workers.

"These people are complaining and they have a right to complain, you cannot live on $8.25 an hour," Schakowsky said.

"They pay as little as possible and think it's fair, when they're making so much money, they have so much wealth and they keep it to themselves," said Emmanuel Gonzalez, a fast food worker. "That's greed."

This is the fifth time McDonald's employees in Chicago are joining their colleagues from other fast-food restaurants like Wendy's and Burger King for a strike.

A report released Wednesday by The Center for Union Facts claims national labor unions have pushed fast food employees at restaurants to engage in so-called "strikes."

McDonalds issued a statement saying in part:

"This is an important discussion that needs to take into account the highly competitive nature of the industries that employ minimum wage workers."

Fast food companies have said previously $15-wages are not sustainable. Workers have a hard time believing that's true.

Arup Varma, a professor of human resources and labor relations at Loyola University's Quinlan School of Business, said paying living wages not only helps the workers - it ultimately helps the company.

"It makes good business sense," he said. "Take care of your workers, they take care of your customers, who then take care of you. It's a simple business model."