Americans employed in the fast food and retail industries have stated their disdain for their low wages several times in the past. However, this time, they’ve decided to take things a step further in an effort to get their point across. Thursday, thousands of workers from both sectors went on strike across the United States to signal the growing demand for income equality. Low wage workers in over 100 cities around the country went on organized protests. Major cities like including Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, Detroit, Oakland, and St. Louis were among the targeted demographics for protests.
While yesterday’s strike wasn’t the first this year, it may be a foreboding that there will be many more to come in the near future, as the number of protesters continue to swell. With economic support from the likes of President Obama to wealthy, republican Silicon Valley conservative, Ron Unz, fast food and retail workers have garnered much more tenacity in voicing their demands.
At around 6:15 a.m. yesterday morning, the first of 9 Chicago strikes began at a local McDonald’s restaurant. Workers employed atMcDonald’s, Wendy’s, Walgreen’s, Sears, and Macy’s locations around the country were expected to walk off shift as well. A number of workers affected by the grief-stricken financial ailment of what most refer to as ‘poverty wages’ also weighed in with their sentiments and deficiencies as a result of being under-paid.
According to the Guardian, Akilarose Thompson, 24, was a fast food worker on strike at the McDonald’s location in Chicago’s West Town area. The publication reports that Thompson has been employed at the location, working as a cashier at the counter and drive-thru window, for almost a year. She currently makes an hourly rate of $8.28, which is actually only three cents above Illinois minimum wage. Thompson also works at second job at a local Red Lobster restaurant. However, the wages for both jobs still don’t equate to an adequate income as she still has to rely on the assistance food banks of food banks to feed her 15-month-old daughter.
“Sometimes two or three a month. Lots of times you can only go to the same one once a month, so I find different ones to go to. I have to in order to put food on the table,” explained Thompson. “It is so depressing. You put a smile on because you’re in customer service and you have to. But on the inside it really breaks you down when you’re always at work but you’re always broke.”
“It’s the Christmas holiday, and I can’t buy presents. I actually had to choose between buying my baby a coat and starting her Christmas shopping. That’s my biggest thing right now – I’m afraid I won’t be able to provide her her first proper Christmas because I have so many checks coming.” Thompson was actually in school pursuing a career in natural medicine, but she was forced to place her aspirations on hold due to financial obligations which forced her to take on the second job.