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Small Turnout for Wage Protest in Chicago

Compared to protests today in New York City where hundreds gathered to demand higher wages for fast food workers, seven people showed up at Chicago’s Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonald’s for the same cause. organized five protests in five cities Wednesday: Chicago, New York and cities along the West Coast. More national protests are scheduled Thursday, including fast food worker strikes. Chicago’s efforts are being organized by the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago.

But the low turnout here did not surprise Chicago organizer Jesus Campuzano. He said: “They’re scared that they’re going to lose their jobs. … There’s fear that they’ll get their hours cut. … And if they were to step out and say something, that has severe repercussions.”

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<a href=””><img class=”size-medium wp-image-40446 ” src=”×300.jpg” alt=”20131204_111742″ width=”225″ height=”300″ /></a> Linda Foster protests in front of McDonald’s downtown.<br />Photo by Kamil Szalewicz

None of the people protesting in Chicago were fast food workers, but all were sympathetic to the year-long effort to demand higher wages organized by, local advocacy groups and the <a title=”Service Employees International Union – Official Site” href=””>Service Employees International Union</a>.

The protesters went into the McDonald’s and up to the counter, chanting:  “What do we want? A minimum wage. When do we want it? Now.” No one at McDonald’s asked them to leave.

In an email, Lisa McComb, a McDonald’s spokesperson, said: “We also respect the right to voice an opinion … however, the events taking place are not strikes. Outside groups are traveling to McDonald’s and other outlets to stage rallies.”

And voice their opinion they did.

“I personally do not know of any single fast food worker, but I know of their plight, and I know how much they earn, and I know how difficult it is and how wrong it is,” said Barbara Ansell, 74, a protester.

Protestors were rallying to raise the current minimum wage rate in Illinois of $8.25 an hour, to $15, according to’s website.

“These are hard workers, they are not skimpers,” said Linda Foster, 58, who was carrying a sign, saying: “Workers need a McLiving wage.” She added, “They’re trying to make ends meet, and they just can’t do it.”

According to the press release, published by Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago, hundreds of workers will be expected to walk off their jobs Thursday, joining a 100-city strike.

By Bianca Betancourt, Alex Wroblewski and Kamil Szalewicz

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