Fight For $15 To Join Chicago Teachers Union’s April 1 Strike

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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.

Fast-food workers organized by the Fight for $15 group plan to join the Chicago Teachers Union‘s one-day strike, connecting their push for higher wages with school funding.

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.

  • DHFabian

    One would hope that teachers would play a role in helping to educate our better off, the middle class, about current conditions in the US, and the consequences of ignoring them — lessons that can be learned from history. Many of them see the consequences of our war on the poor first hand (or at least, have the opportunity to do so, if they choose). Anyone who has studied history understands the consequences of creating a growing branch of the population that no longer has anything left to lose, anything to hope for, any consequences to fear.

    Teachers understand critical thinking. In real life, not everyone is able to work (health, etc.) and there aren’t jobs for all. The US shipped out a huge share of our jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare in the 1990s. The last I heard, there are 7 jobs for every 10 people who are struggling to find one. Based on these factors, take an educated guess about the impact of ignoring our poverty crisis on the economy and society overall.

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