By JoAnne Powers, March 29, 2016
Fast food workers with the Fight for Fifteen in Chicago will be going on strike Friday, to join the Chicago Teachers Union in a Day of Action. Solo Littlejohn, a fast-food worker and a member of the Fight for Fifteen, says fast food workers will be standing with the teachers over a citywide fight-for-funding and demanding that taxpayer money go to schools and community programs instead of subsidies for fast food corporations:
[Solo Littlejohn]: “Teacher salaries are getting cut and schools aren’t getting the proper funding they need for the resources they need. 51% of fast food workers rely on public assistance. That’s including myself. That’s costing Illinois taxpayers 368 million a year. If corporations such as McDonald’s and Yum brands paid us the fifteen we deserve an hour, we probably wouldn’t need to rely on public assistance. Therefore, just think of what this 368 million could have went to. It could have stopped a lot of schools from closing. Public programs that have been cut, they could have stayed open. Just, so much, so much.”
A budget standoff with Illinois’ billionaire governor Bruce Rauner has resulted in a funding crisis for schools and social services. Most Chicago fast-food workers are women of color whose families are being impacted by closed schools and cuts to programs such as child care.
[Solo Littlejohn]: “We’ve always stood in solidarity with teachers, the CTU and they’ve also stood with us. We’re both us as fast food workers and CTU both going on strike. So, what we plan to do on April first is, we’re going to shut Chicago down and demand that some of these funds start going this way. Just as teachers are asking for the funds that they need, we’re asking for the funds that we need.”
Littlejohn says the crisis is the result of fast food corporations in Illinois not paying their fair share of taxes, forcing working people and taxpayers to foot the bill for the public assistance their own employees rely on.
[Solo Littlejohn]: “Fast food corporations are dodging paying any taxes through tax loopholes. Meanwhile, we’re funding our own public assistance programs that we’re paying for because we are the taxpayers. ”
Since 2012, the Fight for Fifteen has been pushing nationwide for a fifteen dollar an hour minimum wage and the right to form a union.
[Solo Littlejohn]: “We haven’t given up. In fact, we’re winning and we know we’re gonna win. But, it’s just a continuing struggle, because it’s not like the corporations don’t have the money to pay. It’s just holding them to it. We’re not letting up. We’re continuing to fight for it. We’re demanding, we’re protesting, we’re striking…anything possible to push forward for this. Please support teachers, please support fast-food workers, because we may not run America, but we make America run, and that is the people.”