PHOENIX — A protest outside of a Phoenix McDonald’s resulted in the arrests of four people Thursday afternoon.
The event was part of a national protest by fast food workers who want their minimum wage raised to $15 an hour. Fast food employees in Atlanta, New York, Detroit, Miami, Las Vegas and Denver also held protests.
About 100 protesters participated in the march that had 24th Street closed between Van Buren and Washington streets for nearly an hour. When police officers were ready to reopen the streets, four protesters were taken into custody when they refused orders to get off of a banner they were sitting on in the street.
The protesters held signs reading, “Fight for $15 and respect,” and chanted, “Si Se Puede!” and “Keep the burgers, keep the fries, make our wages supersized!”
Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva addressed the crowd and told them that, in addition to the wage increase, they should also have the right to join a union.
“This is about allowing workers, whether they are working in fast food or anywhere, the right to organize and choose who should represent them for their wages, benefits and working conditions,” Grijalva said.
He immediately left the march after addressing the crowd and did not talk to reporters.
The protesters came from all over the state. A woman who would only identify herself as “Autumn” works at a Jack in the Box in Tucson, and said she desperately needs the raise.
“I have a baby to feed, and all of the people who work in my restaurant are having trouble paying their bills and feeding their families,” she explained.
She started working at the restaurant three months ago and makes just under $8 an hour.
Many of those involved in today’s event have been organizers of several immigration protests in the Phoenix area over the last few years. Raquel Teran of the group Mi Familia Vota was there, as was Arizona State Sen. Steve Gallardo.
Gallardo was standing in front of the restaurant when he told the crowd that they’re entitled to the raise.
“You have businesses just like the one right behind us that are making a lot of money and profit, yet they refuse to turn some of those profits to their employees to allow their employees to provide for their families,” Gallard said. “That’s why we’re here!”
Dozens of Phoenix police officers were in the area for the protests, and they closed the streets to allow the protesters to march. Traffic returned to normal shortly before 1 p.m.