The next round of protests by fast-food workers demanding higher wages is scheduled for Thursday, and this time labor organizers plan to increase the pressure by staging civil disobedience and having home-care workers join in.
The organizers say fast-food workers — who are seeking a $15 hourly wage — will go on strike at restaurants in more than 100 cities and engage in sit-ins in more than a dozen cities.
By having home-care workers join in six cities — Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Seattle — workers and union leaders hope to expand their campaign into a broader movement.
“On Thursday, we are prepared to take arrests to show our commitment to the growing fight for $15,” said Terrence Hays, a Burger King employee in Kansas City who is on the fast-food workers’ national organizing committee. At a convention that was held outside Chicago in July, 1,300 fast-food workers unanimously approved a resolution calling for civil disobedience as a way to step up pressure on the fast-food chains.
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“They’re going to use nonviolent civil disobedience as a way to call attention to what they’re facing,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, which has spent millions of dollars helping to underwrite the campaign. “They’re invoking civil rights history to make the case that these jobs ought to be paid $15 and the companies ought to recognize a union.”
Fast-food chains and many franchise operators have said that $15 an hour was unrealistic and would wipe out profits at many restaurants. Some business groups have attacked the campaign as an attempt by a fading union movement to rally a new group of workers.
Some franchise operators have dismissed the walkout, saying that in previous one-day strikes, only a handful of employees at their restaurants walked out, barely disrupting business. But organizers say that workers walked out at restaurants in 150 cities nationwide during the last one-day strike in May, closing several of them for part of the day, with solidarity protests held in 30 countries.
The SEIU hopes that if thousands of the nation’s approximately 2 million home-care aides join in it would put more pressure on cities and states to raise their minimum wage.
“They want to join,” Henry said. “They think their jobs should be valued at $15.”