Fight For $15 To Join Chicago Teachers Union’s April 1 Strike
Above Photo: Brenda Harris, in hat, gets a hug from Maria Alfaro, a Fight for $15 protest organizer, on March 8, 2016, outside the Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonald’s in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Harris has worked at a McDonald’s on the South Side for years. Protesters called for a $15 minimum wage and advocated for other causes. (Nancy Stone / Chicago Tribune)
Teachers won’t be the only ones walking off the job April 1.
It will be the first time fast-food workers strike at the same time as the teachers, though the organizing groups, part of a coalition of labor and community organizations in the city, have stood together in protests and rallies before.
Fight for $15 organizers said planning was still in the works and it wasn’t clear how many workers or restaurants would be involved. The campaign has held 10 strikes in Chicago since it launched in 2012.
The campaign is demanding a $15 wage and union rights, which it says are part of ending workers’ reliance on food stamps and other public assistance programs that use taxpayer money better spent on schools.
The cost of public assistance to families of workers in the fast-food industry in the U.S. is nearly $7 billion a year, including $368 million in Illinois, according to a study last year from the University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Department of Urban & Regional Planning. The fast-food industry has disputed the findings of the study, which was funded by worker advocacy group Fast Food Forward.
Bob Bruno, a professor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois, said joining forces with the teachers “is a natural fit” and good strategy for the fast-food workers’ campaign, as creating a broad coalition is how progressive change comes about.
“It’s about recognizing and responding in a united way to a false narrative that Illinois and Chicago have to solve their financial problems on the backs of public sector workers, unions, low-wage workers and the poor,” Bruno said.