‘BILLS DON’T WAIT’

HUN­DREDS STRIKE AT O’HARE, MCDON­ALD’S AS PART OF NA­TION­WIDE DAY OF PROTESTS

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about 2,000, voted to par­tic­i­pate in the strike, SEIU Lo­cal 1 spokes­woman Iz­abela MiltkoIvkovich said. She es­ti­mated that’s how many work­ers were on the strike line, but that num­ber could not be in­de­pen­dently ver­i­fied.

The strik­ing work­ers are em­ployed by sub­con­trac­tors Scrub, Prospect Air­port Ser­vices and Air Serv, which are hired by the air­lines.

The Chicago Depart­ment of Avi­a­tion re­ported no flight dis­rup­tions.

The strike at O’Hare was one in a se­ries of na­tion­wide protests held Tues­day that in­volved a broad swath of work­ers, in­clud­ing air­port work­ers, fast food em­ploy­ees, grad­u­ate as­sis­tants, child and health care work­ers and Uber driv­ers.

The protests were or­ga­nized by the Fight for $15 cam­paign, led by the Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees In­ter­na­tional Union.

The day be­gan early in Chicago, when some 200 peo­ple crowded out­side a McDon­ald’s in West Town, chant­ing and wav­ing signs.

While a $15 min­i­mum wage and union rights have been the clar­ion call for the move- ment, the na­tion­wide protests planned in 340 cities and 20 air­ports Tues­day also were meant to sig­nal to newly elected lead­ers, not least Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, that the ac­tivists would “not back down” from sev­eral so­cial jus­tice causes they wor­ried were un­der threat.

Peo­ple out­side the McDon­ald’s car­ried signs that read “Stop Killing Black Peo­ple” and “No De­por­ta­tions.”

The pro­test­ers sat on the ground at the in­ter­sec­tion of Chicago and Da­men av­enues un­til po­lice of­fi­cers asked them to stand and led them away to buses that were wait­ing. Cook County Com­mis­sioner Je­sus “Chuy” Gar­cia and Ald. Car­los Ramirez-Rosa (35th) chanted with them.

Po­lice said 55 pro­test­ers were de­tained and cited.

An­to­nio Her­nan­dez, 28, who earns min­i­mum wage at KFC, was among those cited.

“I’ve had enough of sell­ing my ex­is­tence for be­low what I feel it should be,” he said.

Her­nan­dez, who had worked in con­struc- An­to­nio Her­nan­dez, tion in Florida be­fore mov­ing back to Chicago, his home­town, last year, said he couldn’t find a con­struc­tion job fast enough so he de­cided to try a ca­reer in the fast-food in­dus­try. He said he hopes to even­tu­ally own one or two KFC fran­chises, but on his cur­rent wage he can’t make ends meet and has to sup­ple­ment his wages per­form­ing ren­o­va­tion work on friends’ homes.

Lorena Gal­lardo, 19, who has worked as a cook at McDon­ald’s for two years, earns $10.50 an hour and says that isn’t enough to help her mom cover house­hold ex­penses.

Her mom, who has worked at McDon­ald’s for 15 years, also makes $10.50 an hour.

Gal­lardo, who also is try­ing to save money to re­turn to col­lege af­ter drop­ping out be­cause she couldn’t af­ford it, said she is happy that Chicago is on its way to a $13 min­i­mum wage, but the city won’t get there un­til 2019.

“That’s a long wait,” she said. “Bills don’t wait.”

The protests out­side McDon­ald’s sub­sided af­ter about an hour as pro­test­ers moved on to their next tar­get, at North­west­ern Memo­rial Hospi­tal, be­fore head­ing to O’Hare. Some pro­test­ers popped into McDon­ald’s for some break­fast be­fore mov­ing on.

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