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Charleston Fast Food Workers Arrested, Cause Major Traffic Jam in Charleston
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Charleston Fast Food Workers Arrested, Cause Major Traffic Jam in Charleston

Summary: Fast food workers demanded a $15 hourly wage on Thursday in Charleston, South Carolina. The group blocked traffic, forcing police to get involved. Eighteen protestors were arrested.

The Huffington Post reports that Charleston, South Carolina was the site of a protest for about two dozen fast food workers on Thursday. The protest occurred at an intersection where a McDonald’s, a Wendy’s, and a KFC are located. The protestors demand an hourly wage of $15. To be sure their message was being received, the employees gathered in the center of a freeway entrance.


The Charleston police eventually had to separate the group one by one and remove each employee from the street. Many were cited for disorderly conduct in “non-custodial” arrests. Ultimately, eighteen protestors were arrested.

Robert Brown, sporting dreadlocks and a McDonald’s visor, stated that he cannot help his family adequately when he only earns minimum wage. “I’m just tired of seeing my family struggle,” he said.

Protests occurred all over the country Thursday in an effort by Fight for $15, a campaign supported by unions. The employees demand $15 wages and union recognition. Over the past two years, the group has conducted one-day strikes, and has attempted to shame corporations such as McDonald’s for its low pay and unsteady hours. On Thursday, strikes also occurred in Durham, North Carolina; Tucson, Arizona; and Rochester, New York. Approximately 500 people were arrested in the protests, most for blocking traffic.

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The strikes have hit the national news, which has helped legislators introduce minimum wage increases in state and local government. Seattle will introduce a $15 minimum wage over time. President Barack Obama agrees that Congress should increase the minimum wage, which has remained $7.25 since 2009. The president stated, “You know what? If I were looking for a job that lets me build up some security for my family, I’d join a union. If I were busting my butt in the service industry and wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, I’d join a union.”

The strikes haven’t caused any major shutdowns of any fast food restaurants so far. Many of Charleston’s protestors stated they already had the day off and decided to participate.

Many criticize the Services Employee International Union, which is supplying millions of dollars to bring unionism to an industry that has traditionally not had union backing.

South Carolina law does not mandate a minimum wage that’s higher than the federal minimum wage. The workers interviewed on Thursday by the Huffington Post stated they all made under $8.00 per hour. For a family of three, this puts the worker below the poverty level, with an annual salary of just $16,000. What’s worse, most of these employees do not get a full forty hour work week.

Many Charlestonians were surprised at the protest. South Carolina has the third-lowest union density in the country, so a wage protest was shocking. Dave Crossley, a Charleston resident who supported the protest, stated, “This sort of thing doesn’t happen in Charleston.”

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