The Fight for 15 campaign, which has orchestrated an escalating series of strikes and protests among low-wage workers demanding higher pay and the right to unionize, announced on Monday that it will stage its biggest day of action yet on November 29.
Organizers from the campaign are promising the “largest, most disruptive protest” in the movement’s four-year history. The day will include strikes by thousands of fast food workers in more than 340 cities across the country, a strike by hundreds of workers at Chicago O’Hare airport, and civil disobedience at McDonald’s and 20 of the nation’s largest airports.
Those risking arrest will include fast food employees, airport workers, childcare and home care providers, and university graduate students.
Olivia Pac, who works as a wheelchair attendant and guard on jet bridges at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, will be going on strike for the first time in her life. Although she lives at home with her parents, Pac says she often “barely [has] enough to pay the bills,” particularly while trying to help chip in after her father lost his job in a factory.
“We’re not asking for a lot. We do hard jobs.”
“We’re not asking for a lot. We do hard jobs,” she said on a call with the media. She noted that her job, which is “difficult and both physically and mentally demanding,” has at times required her to stand in negative 30 degree weather or endure cuts and bruises dealing with heavy equipment. “But every day I go home and I don’t know if I’ve earned enough to get by,” she said.
LiAnne Flakes is a childcare provider in Tampa, Florida who will risk arrest in acts of civil disobedience for the first time in her life. “This is a big deal for me and something I’ve never done before,” she said. “I am going to take this step because too many parents don’t have access to childcare and too many teachers are struggling to pay the bills.”
Flakes gets paid $12.50 an hour to watch eight children, a sum that has left her frequently struggling to pay rent, going without healthy food, and unable to afford a car.
She worked to help elect candidates she supported during the campaign, but, she said, “I’m not stopping just because the election is over.”
The workers preparing to protest are vowing not just to call on corporations to raise pay and allow employees to unionize, but also to call on elected officials to support the same rights and a host of other issues. They’ll be demanding no deportations of undocumented immigrants, an end to police violence against black people, and the protection of health care coverage. “We will be using unrelenting opposition to combat these things,” promised Terrance Wise, a McDonald’s worker in Kansas City, Missouri.
The day of action on November 29 will coincide with the four-year anniversary of the launch of the Fight for 15 movement, when fast food workers in New York City went on a one-day strike to demand a $15 minimum wage. Since then, the protests have spread across the entire country and resulted in victories in a number of cities that raised their wage floors to $15 an hour as well as two states.