Retail, fast-food workers strike in Chicago

The Trump International Hotel and Tower (L) and the Carbon and Carbide building are seen from Michigan Avenue on March 31, 2011 in Chicago. UPI/Brian Kersey
The Trump International Hotel and Tower (L) and the Carbon and Carbide building are seen from Michigan Avenue on March 31, 2011 in Chicago. UPI/Brian Kersey | License Photo

CHICAGO, April 24 (UPI) -- Retail strike organizers in Chicago said raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour would benefit workers and the local economy, where workers spend their pay.

Organizers said hundreds of retail workers, including many at fast-food outlets, were expected to walk off their jobs Wednesday in a "Fight for $15" campaign. An estimated 400 fast-food workers went on strike for a day in New York City recently in the second work action in the Big Apple designed to draw attention to the plight of minimum-wage earners.


The Chicago Tribune said a 4 p.m. rally was planned for workers, who were expected to walk off jobs at McDonald's, Subway, Dunkin' Donuts, Macy's, Sears and Victoria's Secret.

"Fast-food and retail workers bring more than $4 billion a year into the cash registers of the Magnificent Mile and the Loop, yet most of these workers earn Illinois' minimum wage of $8.25, or just above it," said the group Fight for $15 in a statement, referring to shopping districts in central Chicago.

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"If workers were paid more, they'd spend more, helping to get Chicago's economy moving again," the group said in a release.


The Small Business Majority on Wednesday said a recent poll sponsored by the organization found that more than two-thirds of entrepreneurs supported raising the minimum wage each year along with inflation.

"Increasing the current minimum wage is not only the right thing to do, but will have a positive impact on our economy by putting more money in consumers' pockets, which will help businesses like mine and many others," said entrepreneur Clifton Broumand, owner of Man and Machine in Landover, Md.

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The survey also found that 65 percent of respondents indicated taxpayer-financed government assistance would decline if the minimum wage was raised, as some of the government aid goes to low-wage earners.

The Small Business Majority survey was conducted March 4-10 by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.

"The vast majority of small business owners already pay their workers more than the minimum wage in order to attract and retain quality workers. By raising it across the board, more Americans will have more money to spend at small businesses. This will help them create jobs, which strengthens the economy overall," said John Arensmeyer, founder and chief executive officer of Small Business Majority.

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"The economic domino effect raising the minimum wage would have would be significant," Arensmeyer said.


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