Fast food workers in Bloomington-Normal and Peoria participated in a national day of walk-out strikes on August 29th, bringing attention to the low wages and substandard benefits in the industry. In Bloomington, over 70 people rallied in front of the Hardee’s at 1523 E. College Drive, with even larger rallies occurring in Peoria earlier in the day.
In all, workers rallied in 60 cities nationwide, demanding a living wage of at least $15 an hour – more than twice the amount of the official federal minimum wage of $7.25 – and the right to form a union to defend their rights and improve their working conditions on the job. Many fast food workers earn little above minimum wage and lack health and other benefits. As in other industries, they could face being fired for standing up for their rights and standing together in common cause in a union.
In Bloomington, workers struck against a number of fast food restaurants, including Hardees and Subway. After the rally, Hardees workers entered the College Drive restaurant and presented the manager with their demands, including the right to organize a union on the job.
[Read the excellent coverage from WGLT, with quotes from local striking workers, in the article Bloomington-Normal Workers Join Fast Food Wage Protest.]
According to government figures, reported by WGLT on the day of the strike, the median hourly wage for fast food workers in Bloomington-Normal is $9 dollars an hour, roughly matching the national fast food average of $8.94. WGLT also pointed to an MIT study setting $18.67 an hour as the minimum necessary for basic needs for a family of one adult and one child.