Fast-food workers protest across the state on Democratic debate day in Milwaukee

The Wisconsin Gazette

Fast-food workers across Wisconsin today — Democratic debate day in Milwaukee — are demonstrating, repeating their demand for $15 an hour and union rights.

Later today, Feb. 11, they will join a protest outside the debate forum and candidates on the 2016 political field to stand with the 46 percent of workers in Wisconsin who are paid earn less than $15 an hour.

Many of the protesters are young and will be voting in their first presidential primary this year.

“I never thought my voice could make a difference,” said Kyesha Lee, a McDonald’s worker form Milwaukee who is paid $8.25 an hour and will be voting for the first time in the April presidential preference primary. “The fight for $15 has shown me that’s not true. Across the country, politicians have responded to workers out in the street marching for $15/hour and union rights, and we’re seeing workers win pay raises everywhere from L.A. to New York.”

Demonstrators gathered at about noon at the McDonald’s restaurant at 420 E. Capitol in Milwaukee.

At about 5 p.m. they planned to join a rally at Lake Park and march to the debate forum.

“I am a first-time voter and the honor and responsibility of that isn’t lost on me,” said Cornelius Powell, a home-care worker from Milwaukee who is paid $9.50 an hour. “Home care workers help hold our communities together and care for one another, and now we’re calling on politicians to do the same. Low-wage workers and young people have the most at stake in this election. I know every politician wants a 19-year-old’s vote, but if they want it they’ll have to stand for $15 and union rights!”

The debate is taking place at the Helen Bader Concert Hall in the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.