Low-wage workers across the country joined fast-food employees in the largest-ever strike to hit the industry in the fight for higher pay. They hope to capture the attention of 2016 candidates by striking one year from Election Day 

Demonstrators rally during demonstrations asking for higher wages in the Manhattan borough of New York April 15, 2015. © Shannon Stapleton

Hundreds of protesters marched in downtown Brooklyn early on Tuesday, blocking traffic and carrying banners that demand that elected leaders implement a $15 an hour minimum wage and union rights.

In addition to New York City, workers began a walkout of their jobs starting at 6 a.m. in cities Chicago, Atlanta and Kansas City, among others.

New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio joined the protesters later on Tuesday morning to show his support.

“In New York City, we have well over a million people who don’t make 15 dollars an hour – a million people trying to struggle to get by. And this movement shined a light on that reality and said: ‘we’re not going to go on like that,’” the mayor said to a group of demonstrators.

“Workers need a raise now," said a statement by Latifah Trezvant, a McDonald's restaurant worker in Kansas City, Missouri, who earns $8.65 an hour, according to McClatchy DC. "We've got one message for anyone running for office in 2016, whether it's for dogcatcher or president: Come get our vote. Stand up for $15 an hour and the right to a union, and we'll stand behind you."

Workers were joined by activists students in universities around the country, who took protested and took action for the campaign. Columbia University students circulated a petition demanding that all workers at the university be paid at least $15 hourly, starting with student workers.

"Many of us struggle to meet expenses as basic as food and health care, not to mention housing, textbook costs, and tuition," the petition reads. "We receive wages as low as $9, and many of us are forced to work multiple part-time jobs just to get by. We do not have time or money to access the same academic, extracurricular, and professional opportunities as other students. It is unacceptable that any student should be forced to choose between academic success and survival."


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