Students, faculty members and dining hall workers joined a rally on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus on April 14 to support the Fight for $15 movement, a campaign that originated in New York City and advocates raising worker minimum wage.
Members of various workforces, including Service Employees International Union (SEIU) health care workers, Non-Tenure Faculty Coalition workers, McDonald’s employees and child care workers walked north on the pedestrian path of Kenmore Avenue and stopped between Madonna della Strada and Cuneo Hall after 10:40 a.m. The rally was scheduled for 11 a.m.
Chants such as “What’s disgusting? Union busting” and “No justice, no peace,” along with “Pelissero, you’re no good, pay your workers what you should,” filled the quad.
Speakers at the rally included students Jolai Michel and Keesha Moliere from Loyola’s Students for Worker Justice (SWJ); a McDonald’s employee; Alyson Paige Warren, an adjunct instructor at Loyola; and Devorah Schoenfeld, a Loyola tenure theology professor.
Warren said the purpose of the rally was so that, “people like Michael Quinlan [chairman of Loyola], who moved from McDonald’s to Loyola, can learn what social justice really is.”
Michael R. Quinlan, who Loyola’s School of Business is named after, was a former director of McDonald’s Corporation before his Loyola leadership.
Schoenfeld said she came to show solidarity to her fellow colleagues. She said that when adjunct professors are negatively affected by their lack of rights, it translates to a negative effect on students.
“We are one faculty, we have one job,” Schoenfeld said. “We are all here to educate students. We are all in this together.”
The rally was part of the Fight for $15’s global action day to protest for increased wages and improved labor conditions.
The local Fight for $15 campaign chose to hold the rally at Loyola and SWJ helped organize the event, according to Matharr Bayo, a 20-year-old sophomore and SWJ member.
“I think it’s just basic human rights that we can give people an affordable living wage … so they can get the things they need to survive,” said Bayo, a political science and history double major. “Making like $10 an hour really isn’t enough to feed yourself let alone a whole family. I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t support this cause.”
After about 40 minutes, the protesters continued their rally by marching south on Kenmore Plaza and then east on Rosemont Ave. to North Broadway Ave. Traffic backed up as the protesters approached the McDonald’s at 6231 N. Broadway. A mix of police officers and activists directed traffic and kept the rally to the southbound lanes of the street.
The mass of people circled the McDonald’s once without entering, where a “Fight for $15” sign hung in the drive-through window. They then continued down North Broadway.
Cries of “Escucha, escucha, estamos en la lucha!” (“Listen, listen, we are in the struggle!”) and “Fifteen on my paycheck, 15, 15 on my paycheck” drew the attention of shoppers at Aldi and Whole Foods.
The protesters then headed south to West Hollywood Avenue, where they blocked the entrance to Lake Shore Drive. Loyola shuttles returning to the Lake Shore Campus battled the traffic, eventually taking an alternate route on North Clark Street to pick up students and transport them to the Water Tower Campus.