ANSAS CITY, Mo.— Fast food workers walked off the job nationwide on Thursday, as police arrested dozens who engaged in civil disobedience.
Organizers said workers in an estimated 150 cities were expected to take part in the strike, which they said marked an intensification of their two-year campaign to raise hourly pay in the industry to $15 and to win workers’ right to form a union. Organizers said dozens of workers had been arrested in cities including Kansas City, Detroit, and New York.
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In Kansas City, workers were expected to walk out of 60 restaurants, and more than 50 workers were arrested. Ten minutes after they sat down and linked arms in an intersection in front of a McDonald’s, police arrived with vans and plastic cuffs and arrested the protesters one by one. They were joined by more than 100 other fast food workers, clergy members and other allies who stood on the sidewalk across the street and chanted “15 and a union,” and sang spirituals.
Latoya Caldwell, a Wendy’s worker, sat near the edge of the group in the street wearing a t-shirt that read “Stand Up KC” and beside a woman holding a sign bearing the face of Rosa Parks. Caldwell was arrested and loaded into a van.
“We’re a movement now,” Caldwell said on Wednesday before starting a shift at Wendy’s. She and several co-workers said that 25 of the more than 30 non-management employees in their restaurant have pledged to strike. “We know this is going to be a long fight, but we’re going to fight it till we win,” said Caldwell, 31, who is raising four children alone on $7.50 an hour and was living in a homeless shelter until earlier this year.