Workers and union supporters were joined by New York City mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio at a protest in front of a Des Moines McDonald's.
Thursday's rally was part of a planned protest in cities across the country where workers called for an hourly base-wage of $15, union representation and further action by the company to address allegations of sexual harassment. Protestors marched around a McDonald's location on Merle Hay Road chanting “We work. We sweat. Put 15 on our check.”
“I bust my butt just to work here for nine bucks an hour and it’s not helping anything,” said Jaron Brandon who joined the protest after working his morning shift. “Sure you’ve got bills and groceries, but after that you don’t have anything left."
As the mayor of New York, de Blasio said he helped promote higher pay by raising the minimum wage for city employees to $15.
“That helped pushed our state. Now our state has done it,” de Blasio said. “And folks in the business community said it would not be done, could not be done, it would ruin our economy. It turned out to be the exact opposite.”
Although Iowa’s cost of living is lower than New York City’s, de Blasio said $15 should be the baseline for the entire country. “Different places might phase it in different ways but it’s the right minimum because folks are struggling to make ends meet,” he said.
De Blasio said no one involved in his campaign would buy food from McDonald's until wages increase, although he said other restaurant chains that also pay less than $15-per-hour would not be included in the boycott to start.
According to protest organizers, candidates Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Julian Castro and Jay Inslee also joined rallies across the country.