CHICAGO (AP) — Dozens of people were arrested Tuesday as they participated in protests nationwide for a $15 per hour minimum wage.
Fast-food restaurant workers and home and child-care workers rallied in cities including Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and New York. In many cities the protesters blocked busy intersections.
In Chicago, hundreds of protesters at O'Hare International Airport chanted outside terminals: "What do we want? $15! When do we want it? Now!" Police gated an area to allow travelers room to walk. As many as 500 workers at the airport participated in an unfair labor practices strike, according to officials from Service Employees International Union Local 1 who have been organizing the workers.
"We're not asking for special treatment, we're asking for decent treatment. We're asking for decent wages," said Kisha Rivera, an airplane cabin cleaner at O'Hare. "We're demanding respect."
Thousands planned to walk off the job at McDonald's restaurants, organizers said. The efforts are part of the National Day of Action to Fight for $15.
In New Jersey, airport workers marched between two terminals at Newark Liberty International Airport. Democratic Mayor Ras Baraka has called on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport, to raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour at its facilities and take steps to hire more Newark residents.
At a McDonald's in Denver, about 100 people, including about 60 striking fast food workers from around the metro area, picketed. Protesters briefly shut down a downtown St. Louis McDonald's restaurant, blocking the drive-thru for about 30 minutes. In Massachusetts, a state senator was among nearly three dozen people arrested after they sat down on a Cambridge street during a demonstration.
About 25 of the 350 protesters in New York City were arrested. One protester, Flavia Cabral, 55, struggles to make ends meet with two part-time jobs.
"All these people don't have savings because we're working check to check," Cabral said. "We have to decide what we are going to get: We're going to pay rent or we're going to put food on the table or we're going to send my child to school."
Detroit police say they arrested about 40 protesters who blocked traffic. In the San Francisco Bay Area, ride-hailing drivers, fast-food employees, airport workers and others shut down an Oakland intersection.
Raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $12 would lift pay for 35 million workers, or 1 in 4 employees nationwide, according to the liberal Economic Policy Institute.
The conservative-leaning, nonprofit Employment Policies Institute think tank said it believes minimum wage increases will result in lost jobs, reduced hours and business closures.