Hundreds protest for higher minimum wages, union rights

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Several busloads of protesters took their message for a higher minimum wage to a West Side grocery store.

The minimum wage in Chicago is currently set at $8.25 an hour. That is set to increase to $13 an hour by 2019. Union workers and the city's service employees say that's not enough to support a family on, and they are demanding a living wage of $15 an hour.

Protesters marched Saturday morning from a McDonald's in the Austin neighborhood to a Food 4 Less grocery store just a few blocks away. The protest is part of the Fight for 15 Movement, which is demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage be paid to all service workers in Chicago.

"It's not a shame, it's a sin, and should be a crime that the people who serve us in the service industry to not be able to make a living wage," said USW worker Marcos Velez.

Saturday's march was specifically aimed at the plight of fast-food employees and in support of the workers at Food 4 Less, who are trying to organize a union. Activists say that the Kroger Company, which owns Food 4 Less, pays their Chicago workers less money and offers them fewer benefits than what is given to other Kroger workers across the country.

A much larger protest will take place on April 15, when thousands of fast food workers will be joined by union employees and other community activists to demand a $15 an hour minimum wage.

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