Friday, September 5, 2014

3 arrested for blocking Denver's Colfax Avenue in protest for $15 wages for fast-food workers

COLLEEN SLEVIN, Associated Press — Three people were arrested Thursday for blocking traffic during a demonstration in favor of paying fast-food workers $15 an hour.

McDonald's worker Christian Medina, the Rev. Patrick Demmer, the senior pastor at Graham Memorial Community Church of God in Christ, and college student Tucker Plumlee sat down in crosswalk on busy Colfax Avenue during a lunchtime protest outside a McDonald's. They were taken into custody to cheers from around 100 protesters after police warned that they would be arrested if they refused to leave.
Dozens of protesters were also arrested in some of the other 150 cities across the country where fast-food workers and their backers demonstrated as part of a campaign called "Fight for $15." Organizers had warned there could be civil disobedience to bring attention to the cause.

Denver's protesters included fast-food workers as well as members of other unions, including the Service Employee International Union and the AFL-CIO. They marched from the parking lot of the Colorado Education Association parking lot down the sidewalk to a McDonald's a few blocks away, chanting "Hold the burger, hold the fries. Make my wages supersize." They waited for traffic lights to cross the streets, but when they got to the restaurant across from the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, protesters began marching continuously around the intersection. They dispersed after police moved in, but the three who would be arrested sat down and refused to leave.

Elizabeth Guevara, 45, a single mother of an 11-year-old son who works at another McDonald's, said she struggles to pay for rent and utilities with her earnings. Guevara, one of 14 Colorado workers to attend a convention for fast food workers in Chicago this summer, said she earns $7.75 an hour even though Colorado's minimum wage rose to $8 an hour in January under a voter-approved law that ties the wage to inflation.

"'We're asking for $15 because that's enough to cover our basic needs," she said in Spanish through a translator.

The National Restaurant Association said in a statement that the protests are an attempt by unions to "boost their dwindling membership."

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