Fast-food workers in 160 cities nationwide went on strike today, including 50 workers from 14 restaurants in the Twin Cities. The strikers are demanding $15 per hour and union rights.
The strike comes on the two-year anniversary of the initial “Fight for $15” action in New York City, which sparked a movement that has since spread across the country.
After walking off the job early this morning, fast-food strikers staged a lunch-hour demonstration outside a Burger King in south Minneapolis. More than 100 people – striking workers and their supporters – occupied the store for about 10 minutes before marching outside and shutting down traffic at the intersection of East 34th Street and Nicollet Avenue.
“We work very hard, and we deserve to be paid a fair wage, we deserve to have benefits and we deserve to have vacation,” striking worker Carmella Palacios told the crowd outside Burger King. “We need to be able to put food on the table for our families, but what we make now is not enough.”
The “Fight for $15” is quickly catching on in the Twin Cities. The number of workers who walked off the job today nearly doubled the number of participants in the first Twin Cities fast-food strike just three months ago.
Fast-food workers are organizing locally with the worker center CTUL, a Spanish acronym for “Center for Workers United in the Struggle.”
Eusebia Rosendo, who works at a McDonald’s in northeast Minneapolis, said she joined the strike because she’s seen just one 40-cent raise in six years with her employer. She currently works for $9 per hour without benefits.
Rosendo marched alongside her co-worker Lourdes Rodriguez outside Burger King today. Rodriguez, who also earns $9 per hour, said she supports organizing a union so that workers can negotiate benefits like vacation, health care and paid sick days.
“We still have to go to work, even when we’re sick,” Rodriguez said. “If you show up to work sick, they might say, ‘Thanks for coming.’ But they never say, ‘You’re sick, you should go home.’”
Supporters at the demonstration included Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, religious leaders and members of several local unions.
“I want to be clear,” Hodges told striking workers. “I support your right to organize… I know it’s good for the city – and I know it’s good for the people in this city – if you all get a decent wage.”
Home care worker Bjorn Johnson, who won a union after SEIU Healthcare Minnesota‘s successful organizing drive earlier this year, urged fast-food workers to continue standing up – and standing together.
“This is about the rights of human beings,” Johnson said. “Everyone who works for a living should be able to make a living.”
Rosendo said the community support was encouraging.
“We want the support of everyone, and we want all fast-food workers to join this fight,” she said. “We can all be united, and we’re stronger that way. We’re not afraid because we know we’re out here fighting for our rights.”