|Workers in Chicago picket Whole Foods market over pay, poor treatment.|
Hundreds of workers joined the nationwide low-wage strike today, walking off retail and fast-food restaurant jobs in Chicago, Detroit and Flint, Mich. to protest low wages and abuse. It marked the third day of short strikes in cities across the country, part of a nationwide movement to raise wages and end retaliation for organizing a union.
In Detroit and Flint, the low-wage strike forced restaurant closings. Large rallies were held in Chicago outside of Whole Foods, McDonald’s and Checkers, while some fast-food workers took their message to the community.Workers in other industries have joined the revolt. Teamster paramedics and EMTs in El Centro, Calif., are in the fourth day of a strike to fight low wages paid by Gold Cross Ambulance. Teamsters are even now protesting pharmaceutical distributor McKesson’s retaliations against workers at a Lakeland, Fla., warehouse. They are engaging in a rally and shareholder action at McKesson’s annual meeting in San Francisco.
A wave of labor unrest has hit low-wage employers since last fall, when fast-food workers first went on strike in New York City. Since then, a series of short, sudden one-day strikes captured the news media’s attention and elicited sympathy from a broader public. Revelations of extravagant CEO pay have helped galvanize the movement, as worker productivity rose and wages fell since the end of the 2008 recession.Today in the Windy City, Fight for Fifteen reported more than 200 employees picketed in front of a Whole Foods market at midday to bring attention to poverty wages and the company’s poor treatment of them. Strikers demanded higher pay and an end to Whole Foods’ arbitrary point system used to punish workers.
Circling in front of the supermarket entrance, video of the event showed energetic employees making clear they are not going to stand for mistreatment anymore. Among the chants heard were:
“Hey workers, I’ve got a story. Let’s tell the whole world this is union territory!” as well as “When workers are under attack what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”
|Detroit workers demand fair pay at fast-food restaurant.|
Hold your burgers, hold your fries, make our wages super-sized.
Workers also took the low-wage strike into the community. Workers at a McDonald’s in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood, for instance, began handing out leaflets in the surrounding area to raise awareness about their plight. Detroit organizers, meanwhile, used Twitter to call on the public to sign online petitions to show their solidarity with fast-food workers in their push for a living wage.
In all, employees from 80 restaurant chains in Detroit and Flint walked off the job. Organizers in Chicago said workers from 26 fast-food and retail chains were expected to strike as well. They join the low-wage strike started this week by workers in New York City, St. Louis and Kansas City who are fighting for higher wages and the right to form a union without retaliation.