Area fast food workers, home care providers hold strike for union rights

Mahlon Mitchell, president of Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin speaks to the group of demonstrators.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:22 pm

Area workers today held a demonstration and strike as they continue to push for higher employment standards throughout the city and state.

Approximately 50 fast food workers and home care providers picketed outside of McDonald’s at 920 W. North Ave. in Milwaukee. Occupying the restaurant’s entrance way and drive-through exit, the group held signs reading “Unions for all” and “Wisconsin needs unions,” and chanted mantras like “We work. We sweat. Put $15 on our checks.”

Today’s demonstration focused on the right to form a union at multi-national chains McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and others, but the effort is part of an ongoing local and national movement to, in addition, attain $15 wage floor and hiring hall.

Some of the workers spoke about the challenging reality of living on minimum wage-level pay.

“After 20 years of hard work, I make $9.65 an hour,” Jennifer Berry, an employee at McDonald’s said. “I am barely able to afford my rent, much less transportation to get to and from work, and groceries. Every month is a struggle just to get by.”

The group was joined at the demonstration by local officials including county supervisor Marcelia Nicholson, 7th District Alderman Khalif Rainey, and Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin president and former gubernatorial candidate Mahlon Mitchell. 

“You are the people who actually do the work,” Mitchell said “You are the people who make the owner of this place money. And all you’re asking for is your fair due, to provide for your family, health care and a fair shot at the American dream. That’s why I’m here to stand with you– we need to stop giving money just to the top one percent or corporations.”

About an hour and a half after the strike began, the workers “shut down Interstate 43 at North Avenue,” and were arrested, according to Keiana Greene-Page, senior communications specialist Service Employees International Union Government Relations. 

Fast food workers across the country are striking this week for the same demands as part of the national Fight for $15 movement.

Concession workers at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport in recent months have also used the Milwaukee Bucks’ fair wage initiatives as a standard to demand the same wage floor.

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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