At 26, Andrew Olson is already a veteran McDonald’s employee. But after working for the company for seven years, the Aurora resident only makes $9.49 an hour.
This morning, before the sun came up, Olson was outside a Denver McDonald’s at Colorado Blvd. and Evans protesting his low wage and fighting for the right to form a union.
Olson joined dozens of other fast food workers, home health care employees and other low wage laborers as part of the nationwide “Fight for $15” movement’s day of action.
More than 200 protests nationwide are planned for today. Marking exactly one year until the 2016 national elections, workers are hoping to prove they are a powerful voting bloc.
Marching peacefully along Colorado Blvd., workers held up simple but poignant signs stating, “I need to feed my family” and “Price of living is going up. So should our wages.”
The group eventually walked inside the fast food restaurant, where Olson and others led chants: “Hold the burgers, hold the fries, make our wages super size,” and “Hey McDonald’s you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side.”
While loud and emotional, the protest remained calm.
“It’s the most peaceful way to do it, and it’s actually working,” said Olson of the march’s motives. He cited recent minimum wage increases in New York state, Seattle and Los Angeles as models for change in Colorado.
What started three years ago as a walkout by restaurant employees in New York City has now grown into a national movement, extending beyond fast food workers. Home health care workers, retail salespeople, factory workers and others are joining in actions happening nationally.
The Fight for $15 campaign is funded by the Service Employees International Union, which represents service sector workers. Members of the union were present at this morning’s protest.
A second action is planned for 5 p.m. today, when hundreds of workers from the metro area are expected to convene outside of the Denver City and County Building.
Throughout the day, this morning’s group of marchers plan to visit fast food joints around the city hoping to recruit workers into the Fight for $15 movement.
Photos by Bree Davies