O’Hare Airport Employees to Strike Nov. 29 as Part of Fight for $15 Movement

The workers will protest as part of an organized effort that includes low-wage workers who earn less than $15 an hour. 

Fight for $15 has organized a strike at Chicago’s O'Hare International Airport for Nov. 29, 2016. Chicago Tribune Screenshot

Hundreds of workers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport have planned a strike for Nov. 29 to coincide with a Fight for $15 nationwide day of protest.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Fight for $15 said Monday that it will not back down from activism in the face of Donald Trump’s presidential election and an incoming administration that “threatens an extremist agenda to move the country to the right.”

The campaign announced that it expects tens of thousands of people to participate in protests at 20 airports, as well as strikes and acts of civil disobedience at McDonald’s restaurants in 340 cities. Airport, fast-food workers, child care workers, home-care workers and graduate assistants, all of whom are among the 64 million U.S. workers earning less than $15 an hour, are expected to participate.

According to the Tribune, O’Hare is the only airport where workers plan to walk off the job. About 500 workers, including baggage handlers, airplane-cabin cleaners, janitors and wheelchair attendants, committed to a strike last week, and they are being organized by the Service Employees International Union Local 1. They will be protesting low wages, inadequate working conditions and retaliation against organizing efforts.

The workers will picket outside the terminal and conduct silent pickets on the inside. The strike was scheduled so that it would not disrupt Thanksgiving travel and alienate passengers.

“O’Hare airport workers often can’t afford a proper Thanksgiving dinner and know what it’s like to miss Thanksgiving with our families,” said Raquel Brito, 21, an O’Hare baggage handler. “However, we respect families traveling to be together, and that is why we’re holding off our strike until after the Thanksgiving holiday.”

According to the Tribune, national Fight for $15 organizers chose Nov. 29 because it is the fourth anniversary of the fast-food-worker strikes that launched the Fight for $15 campaign.

The Nov. 29 protests will begin at 6 a.m. at McDonald’s restaurants, and the airport protests will begin at noon.

“America does not feel fair anymore to a lot of people the elites” ignore, Oliwia Pac, a wheelchair attendant at O’Hare, said during a conference call the campaign held Monday. A $15 wage “would mean I might have money to spend on something other than just surviving.”

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.

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