HARTFORD - On Tuesday, three planned rallies were held in an effort to push for a higher minimum wage.
Tuesday afternoon, around 100 low wage workers gathered at the Capitol building in Hartford, and then marched to the McDonald's located at 172 Washington Street, despite the downpour. Police closed one side of Washington Street to traffic while the demonstration was ongoing.
12 protesters were arrested, which Deputy Chief Brian Foley said was planned.
The group, Fight for $15, is demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage and the freedom to form a union for 64 million workers making poverty wages. It is for fast food employees, but also for home care workers, janitors, security workers, child care employees and others. On Tuesday, the Fight for $15 protest occurred not only in Hartford, but in cities nationwide.
Yvonne Rodriguez, a mother of four and a fast food worker, said she's done the math and a raise would make a big impact.
"I did my rent, my light, my gas, everything, all my bills and if I did $10 times 40 hours, I was short. I didn't have enough to provide for my children, to provide for my bills, to provide for anything. But then I did another graph, $15 and 40 hours, and I actually had $150 extra that I could put away for hard times," said Rodriguez, who was one of the 12 arrested.
"Families these days are struggling so hard that it's ridiculous. We are only fighting for what we deserve and what is right for us and we won't stop until we get what we deserve," she added.
Deputy Chief Foley said officers train for these types of demonstrations and are there to protect the protesters' civil rights. Tuesday's protests likely cost taxpayers around $5,000-$10,000 due to the amount of officers assigned to the detail and overtime pay.
McDonald's has previously issued statements on the "Fight for $15" protests, which have taken place several times over the past few years:
At McDonald’s, we take seriously our role in helping strengthen communities. Every year, we and our franchisees separately employ hundreds of thousands of people, providing many with their very first job. We offer McDonald's employees the opportunity to develop the valuable skills and work ethic necessary to build successful careers even beyond our restaurants. Last July, we raised wages for all employees at our company-owned restaurants to $1 dollar above the local minimum wage and gave them the ability to earn paid time off. And because so many are just starting out in their careers, we invest in Archways to Opportunity, a set of programs for everyone that provides free high school completion courses and college tuition assistance so they can work toward earning a high school diploma or a college degree.
In Connecticut, they are also demanding that politicians fund the Care 4 Kids program, which faces a $5 million deficit and is now threatening to leave over 4,000 families without the child care they need to get to work.
The Fight for $15 is a nationwide movement described as a coalition of community organizations, religious groups, and labor unions that led the successful legislative campaign to raise the state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, which will begin in January.