Well finally it was the time. 
For nearly a month and a half, protesting fast food workers have insisted that they were willing to do “whatever it takes” in order to earn union recognition and a higher wage. On Thursday, they demonstrated what that means.
Hundreds of workers across the United States engaged in non-violent acts of civil disobedience, risking arrest to demonstrate their commitment to boosting wages and working conditions. In Durham, N.C., 23 workers occupied a series of increasingly busy street intersections, sitting on the pavement and block traffic for an hour or so before moving on to the next location. Other workers chanted and danced around those who were obstructing traffic, as a drum line of supporters pounded away on their snare and bass drums.

All told, thousands of fast food workers across 150 U.S. cities walked off the job on Thursday. Hundreds of those workers–an estimated 436 of them, according to a public relations firm supporting the strikes–willfully committed civil disobedience as part of their protest, and were subsequently arrested by the police. A member of Congress who participated in one of the protests was also arrested.
In Durham, part of North Carolina’s prosperous and fast-growing Research Triangle, police arrested 26 protesters, including two campaign organizers and one attorney affiliated with the movement. Local police followed the city’s protest for upwards of three hours while making no arrests, even as workers sat in a series of increasingly busy intersections. Eventually, the protesters advanced to the corner of West Main Street and Great Jones Street, one of the busier intersections in downtown, where 23 workers wearing red arm bands sat down in the middle of the street. The police blocked off traffic around the intersection but did not advance on the protesters for about an hour and a half. Eventually, after additional officers arrived on the scene, the protesters in the street were ordered to disperse. When they did not comply after five minutes, the police began arresting them one at a time.
Overall, 19 employees were arrested in New York City, 42 in Detroit, 23 in Chicago, 11 in Little Rock and 10 in Las Vegas. As lunchtime began, demonstrators staged sit-ins outside of McDonald’s restaurants in every region of the country, including Atlanta, Boston, Charleston, Hartford, Miami and Philadelphia. 
In Wisconsin, police arrested Rep. Gwen Moore, a Democrat, as she stood with workers during a strike in Milwaukee.
The 19 cooks and cashiers first detained in New York City’s Times Square had gathered before dawn and were arrested for blocking traffic. The movement — aimed primarily against McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC — continued to spread throughout the day.
None of the workers resisted arrest. Some smiled as the police marched them to waiting cruisers. Other protesters, standing on the sidewalk, cheered with each new arrest.
The executive director of the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCRR), Rob Green, called the strikes “disturbing” and “irresponsible.” Such actions place restaurant workers and their customers in danger of physical harm, he said.
“The activities being coordinated, financed and facilitated by labor unions – desperate for new membership dues – accomplish absolutely nothing,” Green said in a statement on Thursday. NCRR exclusively represents chain restaurant companies. 
Fast food workers have repeatedly vowed to take whatever measures are necessary in order to win a $15 hourly wage and union rights, a rallying cry they deemed “Fight for 15.”
By late Thursday morning, the largest action appeared to be at Times Square, where a sit-in outside a McDonalds in the Big Apple’s famed theatre district started at 7 a.m. and netted nearly 20 arrests by the morning’s end, according to witnesses; one onlooker there, the Guardian reported, said hundreds were outside of the Times Square McDonalds by 6:30 a.m., and similar actions were planned for later in the day across NYC.

In all instances, protesters have been causing a commotion in hopes of raising awareness of their intent to set a $15 minimum wage for industry workers across the board. Last year, a report from the National Employment Law Project revealed that the median hourly wage for cooks, cashiers and crews at these restaurants is $8.94.
Terrence Wise, a Burger King worker from Oakland, California, told the Huffington Post ahead of this week’s demonstrations that the latest round of protests comes after fast food employees voted earlier this year to continue fighting for better conditions.

Protesters demanding higher wages and unionization for fast food workers march near Times Square on September 4, 2014 in New York City.(AFP Photo / Andrew Burton)


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