Tag Archives: demands

Strikers arrested during protests for better wages, fight for $15

Police on Nov. 29 handcuffed fast-food cooks and cashiers, Uber drivers and home health aides and airport workers who blocked streets outside McDonald’s restaurants from New York to Chicago.

The demonstrators had launched a nationwide wave of strikes and civil disobedience by working Americans in the Fight for $15.

In Detroit, dozens of fast-food and home care workers wearing shirts that read, “My Future is My Freedom” linked arms in front of a McDonald’s and sat down in the street. As the workers were led to a police bus, hundreds of supporters chanted, “No Justice, No Peace.”

In New York City’s Financial District, dozens of fast-food workers placed a banner reading “We Won’t Back Down” on the street in front of a McDonald’s on Broadway and a sat down in a circle, blocking traffic, until they were hauled away by police officers.

In Chicago, scores of workers sat in the street next to a McDonald’s as supporters unfurled a giant banner from a grocery store next door that read: “We Demand $15 and Union Rights, Stop Deportations, Stop Killing Black People.” Fast-food, home care and higher education workers were arrested, along with Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

The strikes rolled westward, as workers walked off their jobs in 340 cities. They were demanding decent wages and union rights. Among them were baggage handlers, cabin cleaners and skycaps on picket lines at Boston Logan International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport to protest.

“We won’t back down until we win an economy that works for all Americans, not just the wealthy few at the top,” said Naquasia LeGrand, a McDonald’s worker from Albemarle, North Carolina. “Working moms like me are struggling all across the country and until politicians and corporations hear our voices, our Fight for $15 is going to keep on getting bigger, bolder and ever more relentless.”

The wave of strikes, civil disobedience, and protests follows an election defined by workers’ frustration with an economy and business practices that have meant only stagnant wages.

“To too many of us who work hard, but can’t support our families. America doesn’t feel fair anymore,” said Oliwia Pac, who was on strike from her job as a wheelchair attendant at O’Hare. “If we really want to make America great again, our airports are a good place to start. These jobs used to be good ones that supported a family, but now they’re closer to what you’d find at McDonald’s.”

U.S. Rep Jan Schakowsky, D-Chicago, joined striking workers on the picket line and Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia got arrested supporting strikers.

In New York City, Councilmembers Brad Lander, Mark Levine and Antonio Reynoso got arrested alongside workers outside a McDonald’s in Lower Manhattan.


Some voices from the Fight for $15:

Dayla Mikell, a child care worker in St. Petersburg, Florida: “Risking arrest today isn’t the easy path, but it’s the right one. My job is all about caring for the next generation, but I’m not paid enough to be able to afford my own apartment or car. Families like mine and millions others across the country demand $15, union rights and a fair economy that lifts up all of us, no matter our race, our ethnicity or our gender. And when it’s your future on the line, you do whatever it takes to make sure you are heard far and wide.”

Sepia Coleman, a home care worker from Memphis, Tennessee: “For me, the choice is clear. I am risking arrest because our cause is about more than economic justice—it is about basic survival. Like millions of Americans, I am barely surviving on $8.25/hour. Civil disobedience is a bold and risky next step, but our voices must be heard: we demand $15, a union and justice for all Americans.”

Scott Barish, a teaching assistant and researcher at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina: “I do research and teach classes that bring my university critical funding, but the administration doesn’t respect me as a worker and my pay hasn’t kept up with the rising cost of living. I could barely afford to repair my car this year. And I’m risking arrest today because millions of American workers are struggling to support their families and the need for change is more urgent than ever. We are ramping up our calls for $15 and union rights, healthcare for all workers, and an end to racist policies that divide us further.”

Justin Berisie, an Uber driver in Denver: “Everyone says the gig economy is the future of work, but if we want to make that future a bright one, we need to join together like fast-food workers have in the Fight for $15 and demand an economy that works for all. Across the country, drivers are uniting and speaking out to fight for wages and working conditions that will allow us to support our families and help get America’s economy moving.”

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota: “When I talk to people on the picket lines in Minnesota and around the country, they tell me they’re striking for a better life for their kids and their families. They tell me they’re working harder than ever, and still struggling to make ends meet. In the wealthiest country in the world, nobody working full time should be living in poverty. But the power of protest and working people’s voices can make all the difference. Politics might be the art of the possible, but organizing is the art of making more possible. Workers around the country are fighting to make better working conditions and better wages possible. And I stand with them.”

Peace and justice coalition renews call for police accountability, oversight

Don’t Shoot, a coalition of about 50 groups in the St. Louis area that formed in the wake of the police shooting of Michael Brown, renewed its call for police accountability and oversight following the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

“We will redouble our efforts to secure justice for Michael Brown and demand police and criminal justice system reforms across the board,” said Michael T. McPhearson, co-chair of the Don’t Shoot Coalition and executive director for Veterans For Peace. “We learned a long time ago that police are not held accountable for killing people and especially not black and brown people. Instead, law enforcement and the judicial system have been used most aggressively and unfairly against us.”

The coalition on Nov. 25 issued a series of demands:

• A thorough federal investigation of possible criminal violations by Wilson.

• Amnesty for all those engaging in protest activity including dismissal of all state, county and municipal charges against individuals participating in civil disobedience since the Aug. 9 shooting.

• Police practices and criminal justice reforms that address systemic and prolific racial bias in policing.

Justice for Michael Brown remains a critical concern for Don’t Shoot, the group said in its statement. Now that the grand jury has declined to file any changes against Wilson, Don’t Shoot looks to the federal government to continue its investigations into the shooting and into the Ferguson Police Department. Don’t Shoot urged the Justice Department to “expend every possible resource to realize a fair and just outcome.”

“Don’t Shoot also seeks amnesty for the protestors arrested as a result of engaging in civil disobedience,” said Montague Simmons of the Organization for Black Struggle. “We ask all involved government agencies to drop these charges. How can you prosecute people for taking action to change a guilty system?”

Don’t Shoot’s vision for police practices is based on the concept that the role of police is to defend the safety and constitutional rights of the citizens they serve, and in which the first priority is preservation of life.

“Policing priorities should reflect community priorities. We need to shift the fundamental power dynamic between the broader community and those it assigns to protect them and keep the peace.” said Don’t Shoot member John Chasnoff.  Don’t Shoot also wants to see police agencies engage the best and most progressive practices and meet the highest standards for professionalism in the field.

To achieve this vision, Don’t Shoot has developed an agenda of reforms needed at the municipal, county, state and federal levels. Its immediate priorities for reform include:

• Establishment of an independent countywide citizen review board in St. Louis County to hear complaints of police misconduct, make policy recommendations and report on the activities of departments. For such an entity to be effective, it must be independently commissioned and empowered with adequate funding, subpoena power and access to internal affairs files.

• Strengthening Missouri’s racial profiling measure to include repercussions for departments that have demonstrated patterns of racial profiling or failed to comply with the law.

• Expanding Missouri’s training requirements for officers to include mandatory in-service training on topics such as interacting with people with mental illnesses, use of force, responding to sexual assault, unarmed combat, conflict resolution, anti-racism and other critical issues.

• Revision of Missouri law to allow individuals with prior felony convictions to serve on juries.

“We will not allow the grand jury’s decision to set us back,” said Denise Lieberman, Don’t Shoot co-chair and senior attorney with Advancement Project, which on over the weekend filed a legal demand letter on behalf of coalition partners promising to protect the constitutional rights of demonstrators in the wake of the decision. “We view this as a beginning, not an end. We look forward to working with people from all concerned communities to bring a new era of change and end the fear and suffering of communities targeted and harassed by police.”

On the Web…


Wisconsin joins in Dec. 5 strikes for living wages

Fast-food workers across the country are going on strike today (Dec. 5) to demand better wages. Strikes are taking place in more than 130 cities in the United States.

A statement from Fast Food Forward said, “Workers will go on strike in every region of the continental United States and will be joined by supporters rallying in an additional 100 cities, as the fight for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation continues to grow. Workers are expected to strike at the nation’s major national fast-food restaurants, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC.”

Wisconsin is joining in the campaign, with minimum-wage workers and their allies demonstrating in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay and elsewhere.

Also, Wisconsin Jobs Now is circulating a petition calling for a living wage for workers in Milwaukee.

The petition states: “Milwaukee was once a bastion of the middle class. Sadly, over the last 30 years, good-paying jobs have been replaced by low-wage service sector positions that trap 196,000 Milwaukee-area workers in poverty. It doesn’t have to be this way – especially since a large number of these jobs are paid for with public tax dollars.

“Milwaukee must lead the way in the fight for good jobs. We urge our elected officials to take action to raise wages, because workers should be paid enough so that they can raise a family without public assistance.

“Let’s ensure that public resources are used to create good jobs.”

Meanwhile, inside the Beltway, the president on Dec. 4 restated his call for raising the minimum wage in a speech on economic mobility and income inequality.

Some members of Congress also called for better wages, including in their focus a plea for companies to do better by their employees. Fifty-three members of Congress wrote to McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson stating, “Too many hardworking families are being forced to depend on poverty-level wages. Paying fair wages and putting more spending money in the hands of consumers will strengthen our economy.”

On the Web …