Nationwide movement for a living wage strikes Milwaukee

Fast food workers in Milwaukee walk off the job, call for wage increase, right to a union without retaliation

Inspired by recent workplace actions in New York City, Chicago, St. Louis and Detroit, low-wage workers in Milwaukee joined the nationwide movement for a living wage Wednesday by walking off the job. Workers are calling for a wage increase and the right to form a union free from employer harassment or retaliation.

Hundreds of workers walked off the job at places like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Old Country Buffet and Popeye’s. Workers were joined by community supporters and religious groups throughout the day and plan to march from the Milwaukee County Courthouse to downtown Milwaukee at 4:30 p.m. this afternoon.

“The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO is proud to stand in solidarity with striking fast food workers whose actions today are calling attention to income inequality, worker exploitation, and the right to a living wage and to a union,” said Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “The economy is bouncing back but workers are not seeing their fair share of the economic gains. We’re here to say ‘raise up the wage’ — a living wage helps the entire community by solidifying the middle class and creating a virtuous cycle of growth.”

Inspired by workers coming together and speaking out across the country, hundreds of low wage workers walked off their jobs Wednesday at dozens of stores across the city.

“Many low-wage workers are forced to hold-down multiple jobs in an attempt to feed their families and often rely on government assistance to make ends meet, all while working fulltime for some of the most profitable companies in the world,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, secretary- treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “This isn’t right. Today, these workers are saying ‘enough’ and taking brave action to stand up for economic justice, the American Dream, and a better life for millions of service-sector workers across the nation.”

According to the National Employment Law Project, low-wage jobs have grown nearly three times faster than better paying jobs since the end of the Great Recession. This trend furthers income inequality in the United States and forces many families into poverty.