NEW YORK — Thousands of fast-food, airport, home health care, Walmart and other workers in more than 270 cities and towns across the country took part in a Nov. 10 national day of action for $15 and a union. Hundreds of fast-food workers joined a one-day strike.
Union contingents dotted the protests, along with groups of activists with signs and T-shirts against police brutality and killings. The turnout was larger than the national actions in April.
Several thousand joined actions here, including an early morning protest in Brooklyn, a midday gathering in Harlem and a late afternoon rally and march in downtown Manhattan that wound its way to Wall Street.
Rallies were held in Newark and Perth Amboy, New Jersey, as well.
Next week’s Militant will have coverage from actions across the country.
“The next step is the union,” Edward Dunham, 40, a McDonald’s worker active for more than a year in the fight for $15, told the Militant at the Brooklyn action. “We can’t get anywhere dealing with the company as individuals. And we need a full workweek. This week they only gave me three days. I can’t live on that!”
“I’ve been inspired by the ‘Fight for $15’ movement,” Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, whose 2014 killing by a police chokehold in Staten Island spurred nationwide protests, wrote in an op-ed column in the New York Daily News Nov. 10. “Black Lives Matter and the ‘Fight for $15’ are the most important civil rights movements of our time,” Carr wrote. She spoke at the Harlem rally.
Thousands gathered in downtown Chicago. Hundreds of O’Hare airport workers delivered petitions demanding $15 an hour to the mayor’s office before joining the rally. “Prospect Airport Service doesn’t respect me,” baggage handler Radomir Katic told participants. “I get no health care and I’ve never gotten a raise.”
Earlier in the day protesters marched from a South Side McDonald’s to a nearby police station demanding the firing of police officer Dante Servin for the 2012 killing of 22-year-old Rekia Boyd.
“We work, we sweat. Put $15 in our check!” chanted some 225 workers on the steps of Atlanta City Hall. A contingent from Birmingham and Selma, Alabama, joined them.
“Everything is rising — food, rent, gas — except for our pay,” Kentucky Fried Chicken worker Derrell Odom, 37, said.
“These protests are our only hope, mobilizing workers, winning support,” said Israel Montes, 56, who was recently fired by McDonald’s. “The employers don’t care. We need to care for each other.”
‘We need a union at Walmart’More than 100 people rallied at Philadelphia City Hall. “Without question we need a union at Walmart,” Marcus Heath-Jones, a maintenance worker, told the Militant.
In the suburb of North Wales, Services Employees International Union Local 32BJ members protested outside the headquarters of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. The contract for some 1,400 janitors, who earn an average of $12.35 an hour at Teva and other offices and manufacturing plants in the area, expires Dec. 15.
More than 150 protested at the Virginia state Capitol in Richmond. The action included members of the United Food and Commercial Workers fighting supermarket chain Kroger’s attempt to close union-organized stores and open nonunion ones, as well as members of the Communications Workers of America fighting Verizon’s contract concession demands. Events took place across the state.
The fight is spreading and forcing some concessions. In New York City fast-food workers’ wages will rise to $15 by 2018 in yearly increments beginning at the end of this year. In the rest of the state it will take until 2021. Incremental increases to $15 an hour have been won in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke at the downtown rally and announced he would raise the minimum wage for all state employees to $15 by mid-2021.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto also announced a graduated increase to $15 for city employees on the day of the actions.
The growing movement has broad appeal, given that bosses in response to pressures from the contracting capitalist economy are attacking jobs and wages all over the country.
The editors of the major New York bourgeois papers chose either to run nothing about the impressive actions here or limited their coverage to reporting on Cuomo’s announcement.
Mike Galati in Richmond, Virginia; Alyson Kennedy in Chicago; Janice Lynn in Atlanta; and Janet Post in Philadelphia contributed to this article.
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