Activists and supporters from the group Fight for $15 announced yesterday that they will be "taking over the city of Philadelphia" on April 15.
A drizzle didn't stop supporters and workers from holding signs and chanting outside of the McDonald's at 40th and Walnut streets following the announcement that workers plan walk off the job to advocate for increasing minimum wage to $15 per hour and rights to unionize. Similar strikes are planned for cities across the country.
The movement began in New York City about two years ago when about 200 workers walked off the job in similar protest, and it has since spread to other cities.
Other low-wage workers will join the Philadelphia fast-food workers who strike on the 15th to say that federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is not sustainable. Kate Goodman, an organizer with $15 Now, a separate group that works closely with Fight for $15, described the upcoming event as the "biggest, most unprecedented strike in Philadelphia." The group is rallying students to walk out in solidarity with workers. Supporters plan to meet at the McDonald's at 40th and Walnut and march into the City.
"We're fighting for $15 an hour," Goodman said, "Not just for fast food workers, but for every worker in Philadelphia." Fast-food workers and students, including some from Temple University, stood by Goodman as she spoke at Tuesday's announcement.
Andrew Dempsey Miller, a worker at the McDonalds at 40th and Walnut streets, shared his story for onlookers on the street to hear: "I believe that closed mouths don't get fed," Dempsey Miller said. "And if you have an issue, you should speak about it no matter who you are or where you're from."
He said he works at McDonalds "to fund [his] dreams," and that no one should have to turn to illegal alternatives to "put [their] kids through college."
"I joined [the Fight for $15] because it gave me this feeling of empowerment," Dempsey Miller said.
"I'm going out for my first strike on April 15th, and I hope everybody's there," another McDonald's worker from North Philadelphia said to applause from the crowd.
College senior and Student Labor Action Project member Daniel Cooper Bermudez said while SLAP was not at yesterday's McDonald's protest, the group plans to be part of the April 15 movement.
“It’s something that we have been invested in in the past with our Justice on the Menu campaign with workers in our own dining halls,” Cooper Bermudez said. That campaign, which took place in 2013, led to the unionization of some of Bon Appétit’s full-time employees.
In December 2013, SLAP organized a demonstration at the same McDonald’s advocating for workers’ right to unionize and increased wages. Cooper Bermudez said since then, the group has been an ally with Fight for $15, adding that it is “part of a broader worker rights struggle that SLAP stands with.”
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