CHICAGOOn the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, hundreds with the Fight for $15, Black Lives Matter Chicago, and Fair Economy Illinois ( Resist Trump Tuesdays ) will rally and march to demand a $15/hr minimum wage in Illinois, an end to racism, and protest Gov. Bruce Rauner and President Trump's anti-worker, anti-union policies. The protest will start at Federal Plaza, will head to a local McDonald's, and end at the Illinois Policy Institute.
The action is part of a nationwide "Fight Racism, Raise Pay" protest and is
joining the Resist Trump Tuesdays, Fight for $15 and Black Lives Matter Chicago. Thousands of underpaid workers, local racial justice activists, elected officials and clergy will hold rallies, marches, teach-ins, and other demonstrations to stress that the push for economic and racial justice remains as deeply linked today as when Dr. King was killed in 1968 supporting striking black sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn. The coast-to-coast protests will culminate in a march by thousands of workers, national civil rights leaders and politicians on the Lorraine Motel in downtown Memphis, where they'll hold a memorial at the site of Dr. King's assassination 49 years ago.
The current minimum wage in Illinois has remained stagnant at $8.25/hr since 2014, far below the cost of living for any area in the state. People of color remain overrepresented in low-paying industries like fast-food: 48 percent of black workers and 61 percent of Latinos who are paid less than $15.
The April 4 protests come as newly empowered corporate interests and right-wing politicians attempt to strip away the rights of workers to organize across the country. Union jobs in state and local government — which have historically provided a pathway to the middle class for workers of color — are under attack from corporate-backed politicians like Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has refused to bargain a contract with state employees for nearly two years in an effort to break their union. The Illinois Policy Institute, a right-wing research organization, is often used by Gov. Rauner to justify his anti-worker policies.
WHAT: Hundreds to rally and march to demand $15 for Illinois; end racism & raise pay; and protest Gov. Rauner & President Trump's anti-worker, anti-union stance
WHO: Fight For 15, Black Lives Matter Chicago, Fair Economy Illinois ( Resist Trump Tuesdays )
WHERE: Federal Plaza, 230 S. Dearborn St. [March to McDonald's, Illinois Policy Institute]
WHEN: 3:30 P.M. Tuesday, April 4, 2017
In Illinois, the minimum wage has remained stagnant at $8.25/hr while Gov. Rauner has defunded social programs, like child care assistance, attacked state employees, and refused to sign legislation to raise the minimum wage of homecare workers and other low-wage workers to $15. Legislators will introduce a new legislation raising the state minimum wage to $15/hr by 2022. Workers and advocates in the "$15 for Illinois' Future Campaign" have pledged a powerful statewide field campaign to let voters know about the opportunity to raise pay for 2.3 million residents to $15/hr. One in four working people in Illinois are paid less than $15/hr.
The protests taking place in Chicago and around the country are the latest wave of defiance against reactionary attacks on working people, people of color, women and immigrants. Just weeks after the November 2016 election, thousands of workers in the Fight for $15 walked off the job from coast to coast and engaged in waves of civil disobedience. The walkouts marked the start of a new era of mass demonstration, including the Women's March and a rash of protests at the nation's airports following President Trump's announcement of an immigration ban from predominantly Muslim countries. The April 4 Fight for $15/Movement for Black Lives protests will kick off a wave of protests around the country in the following weeks, including demonstrations calling attention to immigrants' rights, climate change and tax policy that benefits the rich.
Dr. King saw a common bond between the labor and civil rights movements and believed that union rights were fundamental to achieving racial justice. As King said in 1961, "the two most dynamic and cohesive liberal forces in the country are the labor movement and the Negro freedom movement. Together we can be architects of democracy."
The Fight for $15 has spurred wage hikes for 22 million underpaid workers, including more than 10 million who are on their way to $15/hour, by convincing everyone from voters to politicians to corporations to raise pay.