CHICAGO (CBS) — Hundreds of non-union workers at O’Hare International Airport planned to go on strike Tuesday as part of a nationwide protest demanding a higher minimum wage.
The airport workers will join fast food employees, child care teachers, graduate assistants, and others in low-wage jobs who plan to walk off their jobs in 340 cities.
The national “Fight For $15” protest is the latest in the fight for a $15-per-hour minimum wage. Protesters called the day of action “Disruption Tuesday.”
Before dawn Tuesday, a couple hundred fast food workers and other protesters lined up outside of the McDonald’s at Damen and Chicago avenues in Ukrainian Village.
Around 7 a.m., they marched to the intersection, blocking traffic and chanting. They intentionally sat on the street, refusing to move. Police issued citations to 55 people, likely for obstructing traffic.
The demonstrators said this is more than just a fight for a $15-dollar-an-hour minimum wage.
“We demand $15 and union rights; an end to deportations. There needs to be an end to racial injustice and black killings. There needs to be a fair and fully-funded state budget. We want to send our kids to good schools right?” McDonald’s worker Adrianna Alvarez said.
Later, the protesters moved to Streeterville, marching on Huron from Inner Lake Shore Drive toward Northwestern Memorial Hospital. They came armed with drums, posters and banners. A few aldermen showed up to support them.
The protesters criticized Northwestern Memorial Hospital for being wealthy, but not paying a fair wage.
At Noon, O’Hare baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, janitors, and wheelchair attendants staged a protest rally for the same $15 hourly wage. Organizers said about 500 airport workers will be on strike at O’Hare.
O’Hare workers complained about dirty breakrooms, of wheelchairs that are poorly maintained and rarely sanitized, of injuries caused by having to push two wheelchairs simultaneously and of unreported and unpaid overtime. WBBM’s Bob Roberts reports.
Joining the workers on the picket lines was Service Employees Union International President Mary Kay Henry, who said the Chicago workers are a “symbol for the country” and said the willingness of Chicago workers to protest has rubbed off on workers in other cities. She said she expects to meet Wednesday with leaders of the “Fight for 15” campaign to plan the next round of one-day protests.
The Chicago Department of Aviation said it doesn’t anticipate any disruption in service to passengers due to the strike. The striking workers are not employed by the city. They work for contractors hired by the airlines to perform various tasks at the terminals at O’Hare.