Scores of people were arrested just hours into the nationwide strike for raising the minimum wage known as the “Fight for $15.”
The total number of arrests has yet to be confirmed, but according to reports in Detroit, responding officers ran out of handcuffs for demonstrators blocking traffic. Dozens of workers also shut down traffic just outside of a McDonald’s on the South Side of Chicago. The Chicago Chapter of Jobs with Justice tweeted a photo of their first arrestee release this morning. Meanwhile, arrests have been reported in Indianapolis, New York City, and Las Vegas, with heavy police presence tracking the gatherings in every participating city.
“I’m ready to do it again,” said Brian Stepney, a McDonald’s worker from Chicago who was arrested this morning.
Today’s action is the first to engage civil disobedience since the wage-based strikes began in 2012. This is also the first time fast food workers and home care laborers are leading the massive demonstrations together.
StrikeFastFood.com posted photos of an empty McDonald’s restaurant lobby in California where workers walked off the job. Similar scenes have been posted throughout the country on social media, with some locations citing “maintenance” as the reason for the closure. In Oakland, California, organizers reiterated the core demands of today’s demonstrations which call for a living wage and the right to unionize.
More than half of fast food workers are enrolled in public assistance programs, according to a 2013 report by researchers at University of California-Berkeley. Researchers determined that the taxpayer burden amounts to almost $7 billion annually, despite fast food industry profits of $200 billion a year. The study found that 68 percent of workers in the industry are the primary wage earners in their families; 73 percent are women; and 43 percent are black or Latino. On average, a typical worker has no benefits or set schedule, and earns $18,130.
Media Resources: Twitter.com; AP/Chicago Sun-Times 9/4/14; StrikeFastFood.org; Feminist Newswire 9/3/14, 10/17/13, 8/27/13