Demanding a hefty raise and a fair chance to form a union, workers in Chicago’s growing fast food and retail sectors plan to walk off the job Wednesday morning. The one-day walkout begins at 5:30 a.m. Central Time, and organizers expect 500 workers from a dozen chains to participate. The work stoppage follows similar strikes by New York City fast food workers and by Wal-Mart retail employees across the country, and marks the latest escalation in the struggle between an embattled labor movement and two industries that increasingly dominate and define the new economy.
“At the end of the day,” Macy’s employee Krystal Maxie-Collins told Salon, “it feels like I’ve done all of this to help everyone else, to help the store, help the managers, help the customers, but it doesn’t feel like anyone is looking out for me.”
In this day and age, with the law and the media stacked against them, the idea that low-wage fast food and retail workers might actually organize a union is so ambitious it borders on the realm of science fiction. Given labor's trajectory this past half century, I'm just having trouble imagining this sort of alternative future. But it's uplifting to try.