Story for The UpTake by Sheila Regan
On the heels of last week’s large Black Friday protests in the Twin Cities, demonstrations calling for better wages for fast-food workers were staged in three Minnesota cities Thursday: Protests demanding a living wage were held outside fast-food restaurants in Minneapolis, Lakeville and Cambridge as part of a nationwide effort called Fast Food Forward, a campaign which originated in New York City demanding that hourly wages be increased to $15 an hour.
In Minneapolis, about 45 people gathered in front of the McDonalds and Burger King restaurants on Stinson Boulevard in Northeast Minneapolis. The local action, organized by SEIU and Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, lasted about 20 minutes in the sub-zero windchill. Organizers said that no workers left their jobs to strike in Minnesota, as was the case in some other states, but that the action here was meant to raise awareness of the issue of poverty wages.
Anytrea Baker, a food service worker at Minneapolis Public Schools and a member of SEIU, said she came out to support her fellow food service workers. Baker, who has two kids in public schools, said she wishes her tax dollars would go toward schools instead of subsidies for corporations. “Children are suffering,” she said.
Baker, who makes $16 an hour on her job, said even with that amount of money it’s hard to get by as a single parent. Between the registration fees for her eldest son’s various sports teams and paying for her younger child to attend a Head Start all-day program, it’s tough to make ends meet.
Isaiah Campbell, another SEIU member, currently works as a custodian, but has worked for Taco Bell, McDonalds and White Castle, at times working 80 hours a week to make ends meet. He started out making $7.25 an hour and ended up making $8.50 an hour. Campbell was able to transition to the $15 an hour custodian job after he got his GED. Now he’s training to be a boiler engineer and hopes to become an organizing leader for SEIU.
“I believe it’s essential for employers to pay a liveable wage,” he said.