As promised, many fast food workers across the United States went on strike today, collectively demanding an increase in wages and for the right to form workers' unions. Employees in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and nearly 190 U.S. cities disrupted business-as-usual in their ongoing protests for a $15 per hour wage. (Organizers claim it's the largest simultaneous protest to date, with the first fast food protests launching back in 2012.) According to local news reports, low-wage workers gathered at mall food courts, marched down city streets, and took over locations of McDonald's, Burger King, and other chains in the "Fight for 15" campaign.
Fast food workers have been pushing for a $15 minimum wage for years, though protesters in today's event strategically implemented techniques associated with "civil disobedience": In many cities, marchers blocked rush-hour traffic or caused business closures. Eater Detroit reports fast food employees, joined by low-wage workers in other industries, shut down a convenience store and gas station during a protest last night. A Las Vegas NBC affiliate reports a group of 70 protesters briefly caused the closure of a McDonald's drive-thru in Las Vegas, with some of the group "walking off the job" and coalescing in the parking lot and dining area while chanting: "We believe we will win." And according to local news reports, a group of protesters in Minneapolis — representing fast food strikers and those protesting the recent Staten Island grand jury decision regarding Eric Garner — briefly shut down an interstate early this morning.
Since the first protests began in 2012, some states and cities — including Seattle and San Francisco — have voted in a $15 minimum wage. Several more have increased their local minimum wages, but many argue, not enough: In Oakland, where voters recently passed a citywide minimum wage increase to $12.25 per hour, the East Bay Express reports 100 workers rallied at a local church and at a McDonald's location to advocate for $15. A recent study revealed that as much as 40 percent of restaurant industry workers live in poverty, and only 14 percent have company-sponsored health insurance.