Low-wage workers and their allies staged a Fight for $15 protest Monday in support of immigration reform outside the Trump Tower Chicago. There, they slammed GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump over his anti-immigrant comments and hard-line policy proposals.
A few hundred Fight for $15 protesters rallied Monday afternoon for immigration reform outside the Trump Tower Chicago, where they blasted GOP presidential frontrunner and real estate mogul Donald Trump over his anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Low-wage workers and their allies took particular aim at Trump for calling Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists during his June presidential announcement speech and proposing hard-line immigration policies. Trump wants to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
Protesters held "Trump is Racist!" and "Immigration Reform Now!" signs while chanting, "Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go!"
"(Trump) said there's a lot of delinquents and bad people coming to the U.S., and that's not true," said Victor Guzman, 23, a Walgreens worker and Fight for $15 member. "There's people like us, like myself. I'm an immigrant. I'm an undocumented student, and I'm here trying to get a better life, to do something for this city. So that's totally not true what he's saying."
The rallygoers marched to the Trump Tower from the headquarters of the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, 12 E. Erie St. They decided to protest on Columbus Day in an effort "to reclaim the dignity of immigrants and indigenous people."
Here's more from the protest, including comments from Solo Littlejohn, a KFC worker from Cicero who discussed the purpose of Monday's demonstration as well as the difficulties of making ends meet on the current minimum wage:
Fight for $15 activists have called for immigration reform throughout their campaign as part of their larger push for better pay and union rights for low-wage workers, including those in the fast food industry. Those at today's rally noted that immigrants make up a large number of U.S. fast food workers.
"These are people trying to work for a fair wage, and a lot of the Hispanics that are working that (Trump is) talking about (deporting) are people that are working at McDonald's," said Chicago McDonald's worker and Fight for $15 leader Douglas Hunter.
Monday's protest against Trump was part of a bigger effort by the Fight for $15 campaign to press candidates on the minimum wage, immigration reform and other issues, Hunter explained.
"We want to make sure that ... the people that are running for office understand what our platform is and that they include us in (their) platform," he said.
Low-wage workers and immigration reform advocates are set to escalate their campaign next month with a national day of action in cities across the country, including Chicago.
The day of protests to call for immigration reform and fair wages is scheduled for November 10.
Workers with the Fight for $15 campaign have been advocating for a $15 minimum wage and the right to unionize without retaliation since 2012.
The hourly minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25, a dollar above the federal level of $7.25. The city of Chicago has a higher hourly minimum wage, thanks to an ordinance approved last year that raised it to $10 in July of this year. Under the ordinance, Chicago's minimum wage will go up gradually to $13 an hour by 2019.
Hunter, 54, said the city's minimum wage hike has backfired on workers at his McDonald's location. Although his hourly wage increased from $9.25 to $10, Hunter said he makes less now than he previously did because McDonald's cut hours after the higher minimum wage took effect.
Hunter said he made nearly $780 per month before Chicago's hourly minimum wage increased to $10. Now, his monthly earnings are about $500. Hunter said his situation underscores why fast food workers are pushing to unionize.
"The raise meant nothing without (having a) union," he stressed. "We still need a union to make sure (employers participate) in fair practices."