The following is written by Keith Kelleher, president of SEIU* Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Kansas.
This month people like Adriana Alvarez will come to Oak Brook, Ill. for the annual McDonald's shareholders' meeting. As McDonald's pats itself on the back for its highest-ever stock price, Adriana and hundreds of other McDonald's workers will protest and call for $15 and union rights.
Adriana is someone to watch. Earlier this year she met with other fast food workers in Denmark. There she said: "I really fear for Christmas because I can't afford the toys my son wants and I know he will be disappointed."
Former Dunkin' Donuts franchise workers filed a federal class action lawsuit Wednesday, alleging wage theft at 16 downtown Chicago locations operated by the same owner.
The suit alleges that the franchise owner frequently made unauthorized deductions from workers' paychecks for cash register shortages, manipulated time cards and failed to pay the minimum wage and overtime.
Christina Padilla, 23, is one of two former Dunkin' Donuts franchise workers named as plaintiffs in the suit, which is seeking class action status to cover over 100 current and former employees of the locations in question.
"Workers have [had their] wages stolen, and they have been mistreated until they quit," Padilla said in announcing the class action suit.
The Fight for $15 campaign is taking their call for a wage increase and better working conditions to the Chicago suburbs. The workers' rights campaign held a rally at Evanston's Fountain Square over the weekend.
Emboldened by recent Fight for $15 victories in New York and California, speakers called out McDonald's and other low-wage employers, demanding that they at least match Chicago's recent minimum wage increase.
"We all know Evanston is becoming increasingly less welcome to low-income residents by way of rising property values and less affordable housing," said Gabriel Machabanski, of the Open Communities organization. "Equally important, but less emphasized, is the stagnant poverty wages. Chicago has taken action and increased its minimum wage. There's no reason workers on this side of Howard should be making less than $10 an hour."
Illinois Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) also spoke at the event, saying that the economic landscape of the country has changed over the last 30 years, concentrating the distribution of wealth among the elite.
Nursing home workers in Illinois staged a series of protests this week as part of their push for an hourly minimum wage of $15.
The workers are represented by SEIU* Healthcare Illinois and employed by Infinity Healthcare Management.
Workers and their union allies picketed Wednesday through Friday outside nine Infinity Healthcare Management facilities in Chicago and the suburbs, including Bloomingdale, Cicero, Itasca, Niles and Oak Lawn. Nursing home employees rallied at their respective facilities to speak out about their "poverty" wages and working conditions.