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‘Fight for $15:’ Fast food, other low paid workers protest ahead Democratic debate in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE — Fast food and other low paid workers took their “Fight for $15” minimum wage demands to the Democratic debate on Thursday, February 11th.

Organizers expected more than 1,000 protesters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, would walk off the job at noon. The workers gathered outside the debate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Besides a $15 minimum wage, protesters are fighting for affordable child care, quality long-term care, racial justice and immigration reform.

Roughly 46% of Wisconsin workers are paid less than $15 an hour, according to organizers. Many of them will be voting for the first time during the 2016 presidential election.

Sanders supports a $15 minimum wage while Clinton has advocated for $12 an hour.

None of the Republican candidates have endorsed a $15 an hour minimum wage.

The current national minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

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Kendall Fells, the organizing director behind the Fight for $15, said the protesters are seeking support from either party.

“These workers are living in poverty. They have to decide whether to feed themselves or their kids, so they’re not concerned with political parties or whether a candidate is running for city council or president,” Fells said. “They care about two things: getting $15 an hour and the right to unionize. It’s about getting out of poverty.”

Thursday’s rally was the latest attempt to put pressure on 2016 candidates. It follows walkouts in Charleston, South Carolina, Des Moines, Iowa, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Manchester, New Hampshire, in recent months.

The previous Milwaukee walkout ended at a rally outside a GOP debate where the first question posed to candidates was about the Fight for $15 and the strikers.

According to the Fight for $15, nearly 64 million Americans are paid less than $15 an hour.

Jonathan Johnson, 24, and DeAsia Gordon, 19, both work at McDonald’s and planned to join the strike on Thursday.

“I’m a father of three and can’t afford to support my family even with a higher education,” said Johnson, who attended college.

Gordon, a first-time voter, said she works two jobs and is barely able to make ends meet.

As for what the candidates take away from the protest, Gordon was optimistic the workers’ presence would be felt.

“The Fight for $15 is very powerful and, as a voter in 2016, candidates should know they’ll only get our vote if they support us,” Gordon said.

8 comments

  • chris

    Just replace them with automated ordering kiosks already. You want $15 get some job skills and get a job worthy of $15 an hour. Don’t expect to make a career out of job most people have when they’re 15 and in high school.

  • Tim

    Please start paying this unskilled labor force $15/hr so that college graduates, like myself, can start protesting for $40+/hr

  • Carleen

    I I had to work 50 years to get $15.00 an hour. I also needed to get a degree and sit for an eight-hour accreditation exam. For this I need 20 hours of continuing education each year. Oh, minor detail…I help save cancer patients lives!

  • Opinion8d

    I highly doubt they got 1,000 protesters -too cold for dat! And Mr. Johnson is a prime example of what’s wrong with people. He’s a father of three (same woman?? who knows), and can’t afford to feed his family…..We Mr. Johnson, you probably shouldn’t have had kids if you couldn’t afford them.

  • Harvard Review

    And what are they offering the employer in return for a 66% pay increase? 66% increase in efficiency? Productivity? Reduction of waste? Increase in sales? No, nothing. So an employer’s labor costs just went up 66%. He cuts hours and increases his prices which leads to a decrease in sales. He will then turn to automation to replace his unskilled labor. Then where do these useless slugs go?

  • libertarian

    Just vote in Hillary everyone and we will get the wages we deserve. It’s time the business owners stop stealing all the profits and sitting around doing nothing while the workers who make their company slave away. Obama and the government have given them everything now it’s time for the workers to get their fair share. Let’s spread our beliefs and not stop until conservatism is dead in America.

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