By Doug Porter
Over 300 people took to the streets in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood this morning in support of fast food workers seeking higher wages and a better life. The plan was originally to occupy one of the quick service eateries along University Avenue as an act of civil disobedience. The Burger King, McDonald’s and Jack in the Box in the area all locked their doors, keeping employees from joining the protest and demonstrators out.
Undeterred, the group marched down University Avenue to Interstate 15 and staged a sit-in. Nine fast food workers and two supporters were arrested without incident. Traffic was snarled in all directions.
Included in this story are photos from San Diego and around the nation. Updated at 4:30pm Thursday.
Anna Daniels reports:
The parking lot in front of Albertsons in City Heights was filled with cars. This was noteworthy. It was 5:30 am and still dark. The Albertsons, which for ten years had a union workforce and hired local residents, had been closed by the parent company and has sat dark for six months. Yet over a hundred fast food workers, members of the faith community and supporters from all over San Diego were awake and raising up in support of a $15 an hour living wage.
Council member Marti Emerald described the high cost of living in San Diego, one of the 10 most expensive communities in the US and the impact that cost of living has on low wage workers. With the average $939/mo cost of a studio apartment and an average of $1,300 for a one bedroom, “there is no rainy day fund, there is only struggle, for these workers.” She made it clear that if the business community doesn’t come around, they will be brought around by the sheer number of people who are willing to take to the streets.
She made the important point that today’s rally is part of a national movement to put pressure on a Congress that has chosen to do nothing. Emerald’s support was unequivocal. Her final comment was “Don’t sign it,” in reference to the petition effort currently underway to put the minimum wage ordinance on hold and up for a public vote.
State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez reminded the group that “A year ago, they laughed at us for demanding $15, as if we were doing a real job. Well, we are doing a real job!” Looking out at the workers gathered there, it was clear that they weren’t a bunch of kids. There were “a bunch” of woman, some of them pushing baby strollers.
After the rally, the march proceeded west on University Avenue to the Burger King. The building was dark and Richard Barrera told the crowd that this was a lockout. Burger King didn’t want any stinkin’ unions. A voice in the crowd shouted back “We don’t want their stinkin’ burgers.”
Other speakers at the rally were Burger King employees Ivan Jimenez and Marie Kalo, along with Jay Ames, a striking worker at McDonalds.
CPI (Center for Policy Initiatives) reports, via press release:
Dozens of striking workers from 19 restaurants gathered in City Heights, along with about 300 supporters, for a peaceful demonstration in front of a McDonald’s, a Burger King, and a Jack in the Box. They rallied at the intersection over Interstate 15, briefly blocking traffic. The workers were arrested for civil disobedience after they sat in the middle of the intersection, linking arms and chanting “We believe that we will win.”
Before he was arrested, McDonald’s worker Jay Ames said he was willing to make that sacrifice for a better future for himself and his coworkers. “I’m tired of making $9 an hour. I can’t live off it. None of us can. I’m tired of being afraid I might be homeless because I can’t afford the rent here.”
Marie Kaio, a Burger King employee for 35 years, also was arrested. She said by the end of each month she has to survive on bologna sandwiches and food from churches and her family. “I love my job and I always welcome people with a smile, but $9 an hour isn’t enough,” Kaio said at a 6 a.m. rally. “I’m going out on strike because I deserve $15 and a union.”
All 11 arrested were released within a few hours. Click here for a short CPI video showing the action and arrests.
From Associated Press
Several hundred fast-food workers demanding their pay be increased to $15 an hour have blocked traffic on a busy Chicago street.
Some of them sat in a row and linked arms in the South Side street between a McDonald’s and a Burger King and chanted, “We shall not be moved.”
After about 20 minutes, police moved in and handcuffed around a dozen people who refused to disperse. Some of them waved as they were led away, drawing cheers from the other protesters.
From Channel NewsAsia/AFP:
Police arrested 19 people on Thursday (Sep 4) in New York’s Times Square during a protest by fast-food restaurant workers demanding better pay and the right to form unions.
Hundreds of protesters converged on Manhattan’s theater and entertainment district as part of a day of nationwide strikes and demonstrations targeting the fast-food industry, according to the site strikefastfood.org.
About 20 of the protesters staged a sit-in in the street outside a McDonald’s restaurant on Times Square. “There were 19 arrests for disorderly conduct when they obstructed vehicle traffic,” a New York Police Department spokesman told AFP.
Some 50 people gathered before dawn in South Florida to protest fast food wages and working conditions.
The group is joining a nationwide day of action targeting the fast food industry. Among those gathered Thursday outside restaurants in Miami Gardens were 15 local fast food workers who had signed petitions to go on strike.
Activists say another 200 plan to gather outside fast food restaurants in North Miami Beach around noon.
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