NEW YORK (UPI) — The fight for higher minimum wages in the United States landed dozens of protesters in jail on Tuesday.
Workers were arrested from coast to coast during demonstrations calling for minimum wage increases — most of which were part of a coordinated campaign.
New York City police told CNN Money that 26 people were arrested on Tuesday alone for disorderly conduct.
In Oakland, about two dozen activists were arrested.
In Chicago, hundreds of workers at O’Hare International Airport echoed national calls for better pay.
All of the events were part of the National Day of Action to Fight for $15, organized by the Fight for $15 group for several U.S. airports Tuesday, including Newark Liberty and LAX.
“We’re not asking, we’re demanding,” Kisha Rivera, a cabin cleaner at O’Hare, who earns the city’s $10.50 per hour minimum wage, told the Chicago Tribune.
“Every day we make sure passengers get to their gates safely, get their luggage and get on a clean plane — but our families can’t get by,” Nancy Vasquez, a skycap at Newark Liberty who earns $2.10 an hour plus tips, said.
“All these people don’t have savings because we’re working check to check,” New Yorker Flavia Cabral, who works two jobs, said Tuesday. “We have to decide what we are going to get: We’re going to pay rent or we’re going to put food on the table or we’re going to send my child to school.”
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour and hasn’t been changed since 2009, but states have the authority to set their own wages at any level above that. In New York, for example, the minimum wage will gradually increase to more than $10 per hour by the early 2020s.
“We will take our first steps together to fight back for our families and communities,” Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, told members in a call to join Tuesday’s events. “Together we will keep fighting for $15 (an hour minimum wage), a union, racial, immigrant, and environmental justice.”
Most of those arrested Tuesday were detained for disorderly conduct because their action interfered or disrupted the peace, officials said. The events, though, were nonviolent and were described by organizers as “peaceful disobedience.”