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A Guide to the Most Significant Minimum Wage Protests This Holiday Season

’Twas the season to fight for higher pay.

by Brenden Gallagher

by Brenden Gallagher

The holidays are a time when consumer spending is at its peak, which also makes it one of the best times for protestors to make their voices heard. Across the country, many groups have set their sights on an increased minimum wage. Under the banner of #FightFor15 (@FightFor15), various workers groups, from retail to airlines to fast food, have made their voices heard.

The movement came together around a national “Day of Disruption” on Nov. 29, during which workers across the country made their voices heard in a variety of demonstrations. Here are some of the most inspiring actions that took place that day and other notable protests that took place this holiday season.

Durham, N.C.

Christian activist and labor leader Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II was on hand to stand beside striking workers in Durham, N.C., on Nov. 29. The protesters faced down riot police who moved quickly to quell their demonstration. By 9:30 p.m. that night, 53 workers had been arrested for blocking a highway as part of their protest. Barber himself was taken into custody.

Kansas City, Mo.

On the national Day of Disruption, Kansas City was home to one of the largest demonstrations in the country. A day of protesting culminated in a march to Troost Avenue and Meyer Boulevard, where protesters blocked the streets and sang. By 7:20 p.m., over 100 people had been arrested. Some were fast food workers, some were students, some were local clergy, some were members of local unions.

Austin, Texas

Workers have been striking off and on for the last several months at an Austin, Texas, Popeye’s. The particularly egregious working conditions have led to outrage among workers’ rights organizations. Workers at the location went several weeks without pay while the restaurant switched its payroll system. The workers also struck over the summer when a broken AC unit left them vulnerable to the Texas heat. Their immediate demands have been met thanks to their picketing, and now they are continuing periodic protesting as a part of the Fight for 15.

Baltimore, Md.

Stephanie Gamble of Baltimore is just one of many strippers and exotic dancers across the country fighting for lost wages. Last month, Stephanie won a settlement for an undisclosed amount from a former employer in Maryland. Like too many workers across the country, many strip clubs classify their employees as independent contractors as a way to suppress their wages. Thousands of New York strippers won back wages in a massive ruling in 2015. Recent rulings have led to a wave of suits across the country that will likely change the circumstances for strippers across the country in coming years.

Los Angeles, Calif.

Across the country on Nov. 29, a similar protest took place. The airline workers who went to the picket lines in Chicago were joined by their brothers and sisters at LAX airport. Arrests were more numerous than in Chicago, as over 40 protesters were rounded up by police on the morning of the 29th.

Chicago, Ill.

As part of a national coordinated strike on Nov. 29, hundreds of airport workers took to the picket lines at O’Hare airport. Striking workers were non-union, though they were supported by the Service Employees International Union Local 1. The group on the picket lines included baggage handlers, janitors, airplane cabin cleaners, and wheelchair attendants. The protest drew a massive amount of media attention in the Chicago area, and resulted in the detaining of at least thirty striking workers by the Chicago PD. The action was organized to maximize awareness of the cause while minimizing the inconvenience to harried holiday travelers, according to a spokesperson for the strikers.


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Brenden Gallagher

Brenden Gallagher works in television and writing in Los Angeles. He worked on Revenge, Heartbeat, and Famous in Love. His writing has appeared at Complex, VH1, and MERRY JANE. Follow him on Twitter @muddycreekU



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