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Workers take to streets in 'Fight for 15' rallies

Workers take to streets in 'Fight for 15' rallies
Workers take to streets in 'Fight for 15' rallies
Posted at 7:37 PM, Sep 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-04 23:17:54-04

(WBZ/WGN/CNN) - Workers across the country, including Boston and Chicago, waged “Fight for 15” rallies on Monday.

“The cost of living keeps going up, and our wages don’t go nowhere,” said Darius Cephas, who attended the Boston rally.  

In Boston, a crowd of fast food workers assembled outside a McDonald’s, a frequent target of the Fight for 15 movement. Some held signs and others held megaphones to make their case for a $15 minimum wage, as well as union rights.

“You can’t afford rent, bills and something to put food in the house,” Cephas said. “It’s a lot of things we struggle with, trying to balance between, ‘Well, I’ll skip a couple of meals today, and I’ll be able to go to work,’ or, I skip a couple of meals today and I can pay my rent.’”

Despite the recent bumps in the minimum wage in Massachusetts by a dollar each year since 2015, the crowd argued the current $11 an hour still doesn’t cut it.

“Any wage increases are helpful for workers and working families here in the city, but there still needs to be more improvement,” said Amity Paye of SEIU Local 32.

“There are families that live on this check,” Cephas said. "These are people who are in their 30s. These are people who are teenagers trying to make it out of their parents’ house. These are a lot of workers, age range, from different places, and these are people from different backgrounds.”

In Chicago, hundreds of demonstrators turned out for rallies beginning at McDonald’s. The crowd included teachers, hospital employees and daycare workers, as well as those who make more than minimum wage but still support an increase.

“(We’re) getting the short end of the stick,” said daycare worker Dallia De Jesus. “We’re not getting paid enough. We’re not valued for what we do.”

“Fighting for 15 isn’t something that affects me personally,” said Nicole Nguyen, a faculty worker. “But it’s important to fight for $15 as a minimum wage, and it’s something that we should all be working in solidarity with each other to achieve.”

Corporate worker Steve Niems said he’s particularly concerned about his children.

“I have children that are in their late 20s, early 30s, and I’m very concerned for them and the future of our country because of the draconian type of maneuvers that certain people in Washington and in this state are trying to basically make the country a place for the rich and the opulent at the expense of the common man,” Niems said.

Rally-goers are also calling for paid family and medical leave as well as union rights.

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