Hundreds of protesters marched in downtown Brooklyn early on Tuesday, blocking traffic and carrying banners that demand that elected leaders implement a $15 an hour minimum wage and union rights.
Fast-food workers in New York will lead the largest-ever strike to hit the nation’s fast food industry in the fight for higher wages. They hope to capture the attention of 2016 candidates by protesting one year from Election Day.
In addition to New York City, workers began a walkout of their jobs starting at 6 a.m. in cities Chicago, Atlanta and Kansas City, among others.
New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio joined the protesters later on Tuesday morning to show his support.
“In New York City, we have well over a million people who don’t make 15 dollars an hour — a million people trying to struggle to get by. And this movement shined a light on that reality and said: ‘we’re not going to go on like that,’” the mayor said to a group of demonstrators.
Similar protests from low-paid workers of other industries are planned throughout the day, joining the Fight for 15 campaign’s call for higher wages. The campaign’s nationwide demonstration is planned for a record 270 cities.
On Tuesday evening, workers in Milwaukee will march at the Milwaukee Theatre, where the Republican presidential debate will be held.
“Workers need a raise now,” said a statement by Latifah Trezvant, a McDonald’s restaurant worker in Kansas City, Missouri, who earns $8.65 an hour, according to McClatchy DC. “We’ve got one message for anyone running for office in 2016, whether it’s for dogcatcher or president: Come get our vote. Stand up for $15 an hour and the right to a union, and we’ll stand behind you.”
The Fight for 15 campaign has seen success in New York State. Fast-food workers held a similar day of nationwide protests occurred in April, and in July Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed through a measure that would raise the minimum wage for fast food workers in New York City to $15 an hour by 2018 and statewide by 2021.
Mayor Bill Peduto of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania announced at a Tuesday morning press conference that he issued an executive that would gradually bring the minimum wage of city workers to $15 an hour. This new measure will affect about 300 employees.
“Nobody who works full time should live in poverty,” Peduto said.