A protest organized by the Fight for $15 campaign will be held Monday, Feb. 12, at the McDonald’s restaurant at 2810 S. Figueroa St. in University Park, with fast-food workers continuing their efforts to get the minimum wage raised to $15 and to promote union rights.
The event begins at noon on Monday, which is also the 50th anniversary of the historic Memphis sanitation strike that took place after garbage collectors Echol Cole and Robert Walker were crushed to death by a malfunctioning truck in 1968. As a result, 1,300 Memphis sanitation workers went on strike to protest the mistreatment of black employees.
In April of that year, the night before he was killed, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told those on strike, “We’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through.”
It’s fitting, then, that Los Angeles fast-food workers continue the “Fight for $15” on the anniversary of that Memphis protest. Rev. Eddie Anderson, one of the co-chairs for the California Poor People’s Campaign and a spokesman for the event, said the Fight for $15 is launching a national partnership with the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival on Monday.
“In Los Angeles, that looks like hundreds of people from a cross-section of about 15 different [types of] workers, tenants that have been evicted, and people that are enduring poverty, showing up together and we’re going to do a march,” Anderson said in an interview Friday. “We will be disrupting the business at a McDonald’s, as well as going to an apartment complex where the rent is being raised and people are being evicted.”
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At the McDonald’s and at the apartment complex, there will be speakers — people affected by current conditions, Anderson said. The aim is to raise awareness that working and living conditions haven’t improved as much as we would like to think over the past half-century, and ultimately to get the $15 minimum wage and union rights, he said.
Raymond Cenorio, the manager of the McDonald's on South Figueroa, told L.A. Weekly he believes the restaurant will be operating as normal on Monday.
“The Memphis sanitation strike was one of the climax moments of the original Poor People’s Campaign,” Anderson said. “Since this is a relaunch, a continuation of that campaign, we are showing the symmetry and alignment. The Poor People’s Campaign is picking up right where it left off.
"We all still deserve dignity, we’re all humans, and we all deserve to have a living wage," Anderson added. "We all deserve to have a job that has dignity. All labor should have dignity.”