PI Original Michael Joyce Tuesday March 31st, 2015, 5:32pm

Fight For $15 Movement Calls For 'Fast' From Fast Food Restaurants Over Safety, Wages

Religious figures and participants and supporters of the Fight for $15 campaign took to the streets on Palm Sunday to call for a "Fast for $15" at fast food restaurants and highlight worker safety concerns. 

Over 50 community members gathered from five churches in Logan Square over the weekend to protest the treatment of McDonald's employees, withstanding biting cold and intermittent rain to march into the Logan Square McDonald's and call for change.

The event was organized as part of Arise Chicago's "Fast for $15" campaign, calling on congregations and community members to refrain from eating at fast food chains in protest of their treatment of employees.

The Palm Sunday event began at the Logan Square monument with prayer and a short speaking session.

Rev. C.J. Hawking, executive director of Arise Chicago, reminded those in attendance that the bad weather shouldn't stop them from holding the demonstration.

"For every drop of rain we feel, there are thousands of workers who are crying, trying to make the decision whether to feed their children or be able to pay a medical bill."

From the monument, the group marched through the streets, then around and into the Logan Square McDonald's.

Inside, protestors chanted as the Rev. Marilyn Pagan-Banks of San Lucas United Church of Christ in Humboldt Park, tried to get the manager to accept a letter. The manager refused to accept the note and the police were eventually called.

Protestors left the premises without incident.

Pagan-Banks said people need to let the corporations know that they won't stand for the poor treatment of employees any longer.

"We want to send a message to the McDonald's corporation and all the corporations that all workers deserve a living wage. They should be making enough money to be able to feed their families while McDonald's is making billions and billions of dollars," Pagan-Banks told Progress Illinois.

Low wages aren't the only complaint of McDonald's employees. Many workers have reportedly been told there is no First Aid treatment on hand when injured on the job.

Bruce Ray, pastor of Kimball Avenue Church, says that the value society places on salary allows poor treatment for low-income workers. He expressed shock at the thought of McDonald's employees being told to treat grease burns with condiments.

"I couldn't believe that story when it came out. I think it's a dehumanizing approach to work," said Ray.  "We have these ideas that if you're a low wage worker,  you're low value. So we treat you in a demeaning way, because we don't think you need to be treated like a real person."

The Fight for $15 released this video about the alleged lack of a First Aid kit at some McDonald's restaurants and other safety concerns:

Rev. Liz Munoz, of Nuestra Senora Church, said the majority of her congregation consists of low-income workers, and they are often exploited in some capacity.

This includes having wages withheld and being forced to work overtime.

She said the Fight for $15 movement isn't asking for anything more that what's fair for employees.

"We're not asking for anything more than a living wage and respect and dignity for their jobs and human rights," said Munoz.

Nancy Salgado participated in the protest and works at the McDonald's in Logan Square. She says the salary she receives makes it impossible to raise her two children comfortably.

"I've been working here for two years, I just got a raise about two months ago of 10 cents, so now I'm making $8.35," she told Progress Illinois. "They don't really know what it's like to wake up and not be able to pay your bills."

All those who participated also pledged to show their support on April 15, when the Fight for $15 movement plans to hold their largest mobilization effort to date as they demand a $15 minimum wage and the right to unionize.


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