(Updates arrest numbers, locations of protests, adds worker
By Lisa Baertlein and Timothy Mclaughlin
LOS ANGELES/CHICAGO Nov 29 Scores of
demonstrators were arrested on Tuesday as U.S. fast-food and
airport workers led nationwide 'Fight for $15' protests calling
for higher pay and union rights in their first major action
since Donald Trump was elected president.
Trump, an international property developer and reality TV
star with no government experience, swept into power with
promises of creating jobs, especially for downtrodden Americans.
The president-elect - who at various times on the campaign
trail suggested U.S. workers were overpaid, but also that the
minimum wage should be raised - is due to take office on Jan.
"(Trump) needs to be held accountable for his promises,"
said Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ, a property service
workers union affiliated with the Service Employees
International Union that backs 'Fight for $15'.
Fast-food workers, home care and child care providers,
janitors and Uber drivers organized by the campaign targeted
McDonald's Corp restaurants in several major cities.
Protesters also rallied at busy airports such as O'Hare
International in Chicago and Logan International in Boston.
More than 300 protesters gathered before dawn at Zuccotti
Park in New York City, banging drums and chanting slogans.
"When we started demanding $15 ... people thought we were
crazy, but we were just demanding the basic minimum to survive,"
said protestor Alvin Major, 50, a Guyanese immigrant who lives
in Brooklyn and works at a KFC restaurant.
"Right now I can barely pay my bills," said Major, who has
four children and a wife who is ill.
Police reported multiple arrests in several cities after
protesters clogged traffic. The arrests included 26 in New York
City, 36 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 39 in Detroit, and 40 in
There were protests but no arrests in New Orleans, Las
Vegas, St. Louis, Missouri and Memphis, Tennessee, police said.
U.S.-born Kisha Rivera, 41, recently moved her family from
Puerto Rico to Chicago, where she now earns $10.50 an hour
cleaning airline cabins. She joined baggage handlers and other
airport employees for Tuesday's protests, which did not disrupt
"Even though I work 40 hours a week ... the wages aren't
enough to survive in this city," said Rivera, a widow who
receives state food assistance and social security survivor
benefits for the younger of her two children.
'LIVING IN POVERTY'
President-elect Trump said last year that U.S. workers'
wages were "too high" and made the nation uncompetitive, but
this year, he has said the minimum wage should rise, with states
taking the lead.
Trump's as-yet-unannounced choice for Labor Secretary will
have a big impact on the administration's approach to wages,
working conditions and unions.
McDonald's said in a statement that it invests in its
workers by helping them to earn degrees and on-the-job skills.
The company last year raised the average hourly pay to around
$10 for workers in the restaurants it owns. However, most U.S.
McDonald's workers are employed by franchisees who set their own
Opponents to raising the minimum wage say higher costs will
force restaurants to cut hiring, and that some businesses would
Hopes for an increase in the $7.25-per-hour federal minimum
wage were dashed earlier this month by the election of a
Republican-controlled U.S. Congress.
Still, voters in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington
approved state minimum wage increases, encouraging advocates to
continue pressing their case at the local levels.
Home care worker Sumer Spika, 37, carved out time between
her morning and evening shifts to join the Minneapolis protest.
"This is what I had to do for someone to listen," said
Spika, who makes $12.93 per hour as a state employee. She is a
member of an SEIU-affilated union, but earns no overtime.
(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles and Timothy
Mclaughlin in Chicago; Additional reporting by Alexander Besant
and Amy Tennery in New York, Scott Malone in Boston, Lucy
Nicholson in Los Angeles and Renita D. Young in Chicago; Editing
by Peter Henderson, Bill Rigby and Lisa Von Ahn)