Milwaukee, WI - Hundreds of fast food workers didn’t show up to work in Milwaukee on Wednesday. Instead they decided to stand up in a one day collective action called “Raise Up MKE“ demanding a living wage ($15.00/hr) and the ability to organize a union without reprisal from bosses. They became the fifth city (Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, and New York City) in the nation to organize and strike in the last month for better working conditions in what appears to be a growing movement.
Workers rallied in front of several local fast food locations successfully coaxing other workers to join them. After making several stops around Milwaukee many workers descended upon the Milwaukee County Courthouse, where they rallied for about 45 minutes before finally marching down Milwaukee’s most prominent thoroughfare, Wisconsin Avenue, where other striking workers met up for a massive rally in front of Grand Avenue Shopping Mall, shutting down Milwaukee’s busiest street. There several speakers spoke in support of the striking workers, including Wisconsin State Rep. Mandela Barnes, Jennifer Epps-Addison (Citizen Action of Wisconsin), and Rev. Willie Brisco (MICAH).
Striking workers state that their current wages are not enough to support themselves and their families. Many workers complain that their employers have limited their hours under the critical threshold of thirty hours to evade national healthcare law provisions that would require the employer pay health care benefits. This current dynamic pushes many fast food workers and other low wage workers onto government assistance programs. These costs are then passed on to the rest of society, while the corporations, who employ them, rake in record profits and pay out unprecedented bonuses. Current fast food wages have not kept up with inflation while corporate executive pay has ballooned for decades. It is more than time that low wage workers be paid living wages and given stronger protections to organize unions. After all, shouldn’t workers who get up everyday and contribute to society be afforded the ability to purchase housing and food for their family?
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