Thousands of protesters took to the streets across the U.S. on Tuesday to demand a $15-an-hour minimum wage and union rights for fast food workers, a campaign intended to attract support from national political candidates ahead of the 2016 elections.
Organizers said thousands of low-wage workers walked off their jobs in some 270 cities across the country to take part in the “Fight for $15” campaign.
A rally by several hundred activists outside a Milwaukee arena where the televised Republican presidential debate was taking place briefly became tense when one protester burned an American flag. The crowd dispersed not long after police moved in to extinguish the small fire.
Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in New York, where they were joined by Mayor Bill DeBlasio, and some 500 marched through downtown Los Angeles. Events were also held in Detroit, Philadelphia and Minneapolis.
Leaders said that workers from McDonald’s Corp, Wendys Co, Restaurant Brands International Inc’s Burger King, Yum Brands Inc’s KFC and other restaurants would take part.
But Lisa McComb, a spokeswoman for McDonald’s, said that only “a handful” of its employees took part in protests she called “staged events,” and only three walked off their jobs.
“To date since these days of action have begun, this is the smallest actual McDonald’s employee participation that we’re aware of,” McComb said. McDonald’s is the world’s biggest restaurant chain and a high-profile target of the marches.
In a move apparently timed to show solidarity with the movement, Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo,…