Chicago fast-food and retail workers go on strike to raise minimum wage to $15.00

Chicago fast-food and retail workers begin mass walkout  — Hundreds of fast food and retail employees in Chicago began a mass walkout Wednesday morning, calling for the city’s minimum wage to be raised to $15 an hour. WLS-TV reported that the protest, organized by the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago (WOCC), included employees from national store chains ranging from McDonald’s to Sears to Victoria’s Secret, most of whom currently make $8.25 an hour, a wage that WOCC members said forces workers to use social service programs like RentAid to make ends meet. “We need wages that we can survive on and support our families,” said committee member Lorraine Sanchez. “These are poverty wages and homelessness wages, and our workers are working two or three jobs, supporting families.”

NBC Chicago — The Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago campaign says many of the 275,000 men and women working in Chicago’s fast food and retail outlets can’t afford things like food, clothing and rent on the minimum $8.25 an hour that most of them make. Some say they rely on public assistance for health care for their children while others say bills are piling up. [...] The group says their companies make more than $4 billion a year on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and in the Loop yet workers’ wages remain too low to live in the city.

Chicago Tribune — A study last year by the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group, found that most of the jobs gained since the early 2010 — 58 percent — paid $12 an hour or less. It also found that the workers earning $14 to just over $21 per hour suffered the biggest losses during the recession and that hiring at that pay grade has lagged during the recovery.

But those six- and seven-figure executive bonuses keep growing every year! 

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Blake Fall-Conroy, “Minimum Wage Machine,” 2008-2010 (via andrewfishman) — This machine allows anyone to work for minimum wage for as long as they like. Turning the crank on the side releases one penny every 4.97 seconds, for a total of $7.25 per hour. This corresponds to minimum wage for a person in New York. This piece is brilliant on multiple levels, particularly as social commentary. Without a doubt, most people who started operating the machine for fun would quickly grow disheartened and stop when realizing just how little they’re earning by turning this mindless crank. A person would then conceivably realize that this is what nearly two million people in the United States do every day at much harder jobs than turning a crank. This turns the piece into a simple, yet effective argument for raising the minimum wage.

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