VILLA PARK, Ill. — Comparing their campaign to the civil rights movement, fast food workers from across the country voted Saturday to escalate their efforts for $15-an-hour pay and union membership by using nonviolent civil disobedience.
More than 1,300 workers gathered in a convention center in suburban Chicago to discuss the future of a campaign that has spread to dozens of cities in less than two years. Wearing T-shirts that said "Fight for $15" and "We Are Worth More," the workers cheered loudly and said they would win if they stuck together.
"People are just fed up," said Cindy Enriquez, 20, of Phoenix.
The $8.25 an hour she makes working for McDonald's is not enough to go to college and become a police officer and barely enough to pay her rent, Enriquez said.
While the vote didn't list any specific acts of civil disobedience, Enriquez said some workers suggested sit-ins and perhaps blocking businesses. She said they need to keep pressure on owners even if it means sitting in front of restaurants "to make sure they do not sell anything."
"We're going to keep on going," Enriquez said.
The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, translating to about $15,000 a year for someone working 40 hours a week, though many fast-food workers get far fewer hours. President Barack Obama and others have called for increasing it to $10.10.