By Public News Service
CHICAGO – Fast-food workers in Chicago are going on a one-day strike today, one year before the 2016 presidential election.
The idea is to get presidential candidates to listen to their demands for a $15 hourly minimum wage, and the right to organize without retaliation from their employers.
Solo Littlejohn, a cook at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Cicero, says he’s going on strike because his hourly wage of $8.25 isn’t enough to live on. “I’m behind on rent, I’m near getting my electricity cut off,” he says. “I’ve had my mother and father helping me, but they can only do so much.”
The strike in Chicago is one of about 270 planned across the country. Fight for 15 organizers are calling it their biggest nationwide action yet. Earlier this year, the National Employment Law Project reported that just under half of U.S. workers – about 42 percent – make less than $15 an hour.
The project also found that a majority of them, potentially numbering in the millions, would vote for a candidate who supports the $15 wage increase, and that includes Littlejohn. “No president will be getting our votes unless they support us on our union rights and $15 minimum wage raise,” he says.
Some business groups, including the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, don’t like the idea of a minimum wage hike. Its president, Rob Karr, has said a state wage raise would be too expensive for some employers, who would then be forced to cut jobs.