NEW YORK: Workers from fast-food chains, airports and other service industries were to rally in US cities Tuesday as part of a nationwide day of disruption to demand union rights and a minimum wage of $15 an hour. In New York, a group of 500 that included airport and taxi workers joined a union-backed “Fight For 15” march before a McDonald’s restaurant near Wall Street. Demonstrators briefly blocked Broadway before police arrested about 20 of them, with other rallies expected in Chicago, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale in the state of Florida. Workers slated to join in included cabin cleaners, luggage handlers and other staff at O’Hare, LAX and Fort Lauderdale airports. However, flights were not expected to be disrupted. In Florida the rally was also due to include non-union home health care workers as well as members of the Service Employees International Union.
The “Fight for 15” campaign began exactly four years ago in November 2012, when fast-food workers walked off the job to demand a doubling of the minimum wage, a demand that later spread to other sectors. The movement scored a big win in April when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to lift the minimum wage in New York state to $15 an hour. The increase will take effect gradually however, applying to all of New York City employers by the end of 2019 and all of the state’s companies later under a schedule set by the state. The federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 an hour, but workers have won $15 an hour in a number of jurisdictions, including the state of California and Seattle. Other states, such as Arizona and Maine, have passed laws setting the minimum wage at $12 an hour. In the Democratic camp, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders came out for a $15 minimum wage during the White House primaries. While President-elect Donald Trump has made conflicting statements on the issue he has at times seemed to endorse a $10 federal minimum.