Workers demand $15 minimum wage during Labor Day protests

Photo Courtesy: UPI

Sept. 4 (UPI) — Workers took to the streets nationwide to rally for better wages on the national holiday honoring the American labor movement.

“Fight for 15” campaigns to increase the minimum wage took place around the nation on Labor Day, with several beginning before the sun came up. Fast-food workers were especially well represented.

In Chicago, several thousand people rallied in the Pilsen neighborhood on Monday morning, before marking downtown.

Attendees protested Gov. Bruce Rauner’s recent veto of a bill to raise Illinois’ minimum wage to $15. The state’s minimum wage is currently $8.25 — except in Chicago, where it has been set at $11.

Attendees included Rev. Jesse Jackson, former Gov. Pat Quinn, childcare and health care workers, city employees and teachers.

Protestors said planned to organize outside McDonald’s.

McDonald’s said in a statement the burger chain had raised pay and started offering paid time off at company-owned restaurants.

In Connecticut, dozens of people participated in labor protests in Hartford, East Hartford, Manchester, New Haven and Waterbury.

“Hold the burgers hold the fries … make our wages supersized!” a crowd of fast-food workers chanted as they marched outside a McDonald’s in Hartford.

“We hope to get the message that $10.10 an hour [state’s minimum wage] is not enough and we need more and we deserve more. That and union rights,” said Richard Grimes, who works at a Burger King in Hartford.

In New Orleans, dozens of people gathered outside a McDonald’s, demanding that the minimum wage be increased from the state’s $7.25 minimum wage and seeking their right to form a union.

In St. Paul, Minn., fast-food workers showed up at a McDonald’s at 6 a.m. In the satet, there are currently two minimum wages based on the number of employees — $9.50 for large businesses and $7.75 for small businesses.

The Minneapolis City Council voted to raise the minimum wage to phase in a $15 per hour wage by 2024.

“We’re hopeful that the national minimum wage actually goes up and catches up with what we’re doing right now,” Veronica Mendez Moore said. “That’s part of this fight. The more workers we can get covered under this the better.”

The national minimum wage was set at $7.25 per hour in 2009.

Twenty-nine states have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage, according to Balance.com, a personal finance website. Some cities have higher minimum wages than their states.

The highest state wages are $10 in Massachusetts and Washington. The District of Columbia’s minimum wage is $12.50 per hour.

D.C., California and New York are phasing in a $15 minimum wage.

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