Brief

‘Fight for $15’ demonstration, janitor contract talks kick-off coincide in Milwaukee

By: - July 21, 2021 5:32 am

Fast food workers demonstrate outside McDonald’s at 7451 W Appleton Ave. in Milwaukee Tuesday as part of a series of rallies and one-day strikes by Fight for $15 and a Union to demand a $15 federal minimum wage. (Photo courtesey Fight for $15 and a Union)

Two union campaigns converged on Milwaukee Tuesday with a common goal: $15 an hour minimum wage.

A McDonald’s restaurant on the city’s Northwest Side was the site of a noon rally as workers in Milwaukee’s fast food industry staged a one-day walkout. The action was part of a nationwide day of rallies and walkouts organized by two groups: the Fight for $15 and a Union campaign and One Fair Wage. Events were planned for 15 cities, ranging from Detroit, Chicago and New York to Charlotte, N.C., Norfolk, Va., and Flint, Mich.

The Milwaukee demonstration took place outside a McDonald’s restaurant at 7451 W. Appleton Ave. Organizers called for raising the federal minimum wage to at least $15 as well as an end to a Wisconsin law that blocks local governments for setting their own higher local minimum wages.

Also Tuesday, Milwaukee janitors represented by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 began talks with building management and cleaning contractors. The union has made public its demand for a $15 minimum hourly wage for its members. 

The union also is seeking a stronger voice in health and safety conditions and other policies affecting workers, and to expand its coverage across the broader Milwaukee metropolitan area.

A group of Milwaukee political leaders, including Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, Milwaukee Common Council President Cavalier Johnson, Milwaukee County Board Chair Marcelia Nicholson, 23 members of the common council and county board and nine state lawmakers from the city released a letter backing the union’s demands. 

“Our city has invested enormous resources in a vibrant downtown commercial core; it is time for the benefits of that investment to extend to our community as a whole, starting with a strong union contract for janitors,” the letter states.

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Erik Gunn
Erik Gunn

Senior Reporter Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, health policy and related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary. An East Coast native, he previously covered labor for The Milwaukee Journal after reporting for newspapers in upstate New York and northern Illinois. He's a graduate of Beloit College (English Comp.) and the Columbia School of Journalism. Off hours he is the Examiner's resident Springsteen and Jackson Browne fanboy and model railroad nerd.

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