U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) was one of 54 people arrested for trespassing on Thursday at the McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago during a strike for union rights and a higher minimum wage.
This strike was a part of a series of protests taking place across the country. The “Fight for $15” campaign held town halls and roundtables in 17 cities last month, and now workers have mobilized to demand a $15 minimum wage and the right to unionize.
The union strikes hit close to home for Northwestern where, last spring, food service workers raised concerns about the transition from Northwestern’s previous food provider to a new one. The workers marched for a seamless transition, and they eventually reached a deal in May with Compass Group North America, the new food service provider.
Now, at the McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago, nearly 1,000 fast food employees gathered where Schakowsky, representative for the Illinois 9th Congressional district, which covers Evanston and other northern suburbs of Chicago, joined to show her support.
“I’m proud to support workers in the Fight for $15 who are striking and protesting all across the country today for union rights,” Schakowsky, who will be running for re-election in November, later said in a statement. “Unions are the solution to unrigging the economy and strengthening communities here in Illinois and nationwide.”
Medill freshman Zachary Miller supported Schakowsky’s stance for union workers.
“She was standing up for what mattered to her. I don’t see anything wrong in that,” he said.
A spokesperson for McDonald’s defended the company’s treatment of employees, listing the training, education and tuition assistance programs they offer.
“These benefits show McDonald’s and its independent franchisees’ commitment to providing jobs that fit around the lives of restaurant employees so they may pursue their education and career ambitions,” the company said in the statement.
The strikes on Thursday are the latest in a wave of protests held by low-wage workers. According to CNBC, thousands of low-wage and fast-food workers have gone on strike in recent months across the country, calling for a $15 minimum wage.
Union workers’ next move in the fight for a higher wage will be to focus their efforts on canvassing in contested midterm races throughout the country in favor of candidates who support unionization and a higher minimum wage. Fight for $15 says it plans on targeting 11 “key battleground states and swing districts.”
Schakowsky was released with a citation for trespassing along with the other workers who were arrested. None were taken into custody, but all were left with a passion to keep on fighting.