Chicago Fast Food and Retail Strike To Culminate in Neighborhood Stores

Chicago Fast-Food and Retail Workers Join 100-City Strike Wave

Strikes Take Place At Shops City-Wide, Continue Until Evening
Supporters Hold Rallies in 100 Additional Cities

CHICAGO– One year after the first strike hit the $200 billion fast-food industry and the $4.7 trillion retail industry, hundreds of Chicago workers walked off their jobs Thursday, joining a 100-city strike wave. Workers went on strike in every region of the continental United States and were joined by supporters rallying in an additional 100 cities, as the fight for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation continues to grow. This is the fourth time Chicago fast-food and retail workers go on strike this year.

“I’m going on strike today for my kids, my grandchildren, and for myself. They have given me a reason to fight,” said Teresa Olivo a mother of four and a McDonald’s employee. “I have worked for too many years for them not to value me. Today I am fighting for what I’m worth.”

In Chicago, workers went on strike from 70+ stores across the city including Wendy’s, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, Burger King, Macy’s, Sears, Walgreens, and Whole Foods. Early this morning, workers, community supporters, and religious leaders congregated at a McDonald’s in West Town. Workers rallied outside of the McDonald’s chanting and speaking out about their fight. They were joined by an immense “Christmas Grinch” puppet just in time for the holiday season. Workers then traveled to the downtown loop to protest stores there, like Walgreens, Macy’s, and Sears. The day will wrap up in different neighborhood stores across the city.

A full list of cities with fast-food worker strikes is included at the end of this release.

These strikes are part of a growing fast-food worker movement that started with 200 workers striking in a single city – New York City – just one year ago. Backed by labor, community and clergy allies, it quickly spread around the country, with strikes in New York and seven additional cities in the spring and summer. As a result of those walkouts, workers from dozens of cities across the United States began to get in touch via Facebook, lowpayisnotok and through the websites of the campaigns.

The movement has grown steadily since then, with 60 cities going on strike on Aug. 29 and now thousands of workers walking off the job in 100 cities. This is the latest in an escalating series of walkouts and protests by workers across the country. Last week, more than 100 workers and supporters were arrested as thousands of Walmart workers protested at 1500 stores nationwide on Black Friday, calling for Walmart to publicly commit to paying $25,000 a year, providing full-time work and ending illegal retaliation.

Recognizing the economic urgency of helping these workers raise their wages and concerns over the two-track recovery, clergy, elected officials, and community supporters joined fast-food workers on the strike lines in cities from Seattle to Tampa.

Fast food is a $200 billion a year industry and retail is a $4.7 trillion industry, yet many service workers across the country earn minimum wage or just above it and are forced to rely on public assistance programs to provide for their families and get healthcare for their children. Nationally, the median wage for cooks, cashiers and crew at fast-food restaurants is just $8.94 an hour.

In the Chicago metro area there are 275,000 low wage fast food and retail workers. An adult with one child needs to make $20.86 an hour working full time in the Chicago area just to afford the basics, according to a model developed by a professor at MIT.

A recent report by the University of California-Berkley found that more than half of front line fast food workers, including more than half of those who work more than forty hours per week, earn so little they are forced to rely on public assistance programs, costing taxpayers $7 billion per year. Following that report, news broke that McDonald’s – the worst offender relying on taxpayers to pick up the slack for its low wages – was actually directing its workers to apply for public assistance on its McResource hotline.

Low-wage jobs have accounted for the bulk of new jobs added in the recovery, and retail and fast food are among the fastest-growing sectors, slowing the recovery and hurting our local economy. A recent study from the Economic Policy Institute finds that wages were flat or declined for the bottom 60 percent of workers from 2000 to 2012, even while productivity grew by 25 percent over this same period. And while median household income has risen, according to a new study, it is still more than 6 percent below pre-recession levels. That loss in income has been most acute among low-wage workers, who have also seen a disproportionate drop in real wages in the recovery.

Companies like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s have said that their low-wage jobs are stepping stones to better ones, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. A report released last month by the National Employment Law Project reveals managerial positions make up just 2.2% of all jobs in the industry, proving that fast-food jobs are not the “launching pad” industry officials would like Americans to believe. Likewise, the industry’s claim that its workers are teenagers is simply not backed by fact. Seventy percent of fast-food workers are in their 20s or older and more than one-quarter of fast-food workers are raising at least one child.

Fast-food workers were expected to go on strike in the following cities: Houston, TX; Milwaukee, WI; St Louis, MO; Oakland, CA; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; Kansas City, MO; Detroit, MI; Raleigh-Durham, NC; Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; Washington, DC; New Orleans, LA; Denver, CO; Las Vegas, NV; Wilmington, DE; Austin, TX; Hartford, CT; New Haven, CT; Providence RI; Pittsburgh, PA; Atlanta, GA; Tampa, FL; Westminster, CO; Arvada, CO; Slidel, LA; Metarie, LA; Gretna, LA; Lakewood, CO; Harvey, LA; North Glen, CO; North Las Vegas, NV; Henderson, NV; Windsor Locks, CT; Warwick, RI; Manchester, CT; Union City, GA; Decatur, GA; Temple Terrace, FL; Indianapolis, IN; Peoria, IL; Bloomington, IN; Flint, MI; Lansing, MI; Warren, MI; Taylor, MI; Redford Township, MI; Pontiac, MI; Oak Park, MI; Melvindale, MI; Livonia, MI; Highland Park, MI; Harper Woods MI; Hamtramck, MI; Flint, MI; Ferndale, MI; Farmington Hills, MI; Eastpointe, MI; Dearborn Heights, MI; Canton, MI; Burton, MI; Bloomfield Hills, MI; Beverly Hills, MI; Waterford, MI; Wayne, MI; Sylvan Lake, MI; River Rouge, MI; Redford, MI; Lincoln Park, MI; Auburn Hills, MI; Dearborn, MI; Southfield, MI; San Diego, CA; Pasadena, CA; Montebello, CA; Hawthorne, CA; Glendale, CA; El Monte, CA; Culver City, CA; Inglewood, CA; Commerce, CA; Madison, WI; Wausau, WI; West Milwaukee, WI; Greendale, WI; Glendale, WI; Westin, WI; West Allis, WI; Wauwatosa, WI; Greenfield, WI; Fremont, CA; Alameda, CA; San Lorenzo, CA; Taylor, CA; Union City, CA; Berkeley, CA; Richmond, CA; El Cerrito, CA; Albany, CA; Hayward, CA; San Leandro, CA; Charleston, SC; Richmond, VA; Greensboro, NC; Charlotte, NC; Durham, NC; Mint Hill, NC; Henrico, VA; James Island, SC; Hillsborough, NC; North Charleston, SC; Chapel Hill, NC; Knightdale, NC; Cary, NC; Columbia, MO; Nashville, TN; Memphis, TN; Southaven, MI; Creve Coeur, MO; Leawood, KS; Gladstone, MO; Independence, MO; Raytown, MO; Ballwin, MO; Wentzville, MO; Forsynth, MO; University City, MO; Chesterfield, MO; Ferguson, MO; East St Louis, MO.

Contact: Deivid Rojas 312-219-0008 deivid@fightfor15.org

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