Police escort fast food protestors from East St. Louis McDonalds
EAST ST. LOUIS, IL (KTVI) – The morning shift at a Metro-East McDonald’s started Tuesday with protests and a heavy police presence.
The crowd gathered and almost immediately started chanting: “We can’t survive on $8.25!”
Both the driving rain and the predawn darkness were not enough to keep striking workers off the McDonald`s parking lot on 25th and State Streets in East St. Louis. Just in time for the 6 a.m. breakfast rush, workers demanded a pay increase to $15 an hour. That would be up from the Illinois state minimum wage of $8.25.
“I’m barely making it, barely” said McDonald’s employee Jamiya Little, still chanting under a soaked red slicker. “I’m late on car payments. I’m late on late on everything. This is not enough.”
“As soon as I get off a 5 o’clock in the morning, maybe get off at 2,” said grill manager Andre Houston. “Go right back to work. I work another part time job.”
The previous day, the group STL Can’t Survive on $7.25 – the minimum wage in Missouri – protested at several fast-food restaurants, including a McDonald’s in Ferguson. Those employees that did choose to work Tuesday morning, instead of strike, got a start to their shift with a little bit of help from the East St. Louis Police.
“We tried to get some of the employees to join us. We need all the help we can get,” said McDonald’s employee Joseph Ryan. He said he worked in nearby Belleville. “They were afraid of losing their jobs. It’s understandable.”
About a dozen officers asked the protestors to leave the dining room, then the property.
“We gotta respect their authority, at the same time,” Ryan pointed out. “We respect what they asked us to do.”
So, the group cleared the parking lot, and then blocked a driveway. Houston said he is doing more than just picketing for a higher-paying job.
“I’m trying to go to school for pharmacy technician,” he explained. “I’ll be done in September. I’m just trying to get out here and get it done the best way I know how.”
The owner of the McDonald’s franchise – that was the site of the protest — refused to comment.