Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago
The Workers’ Organizing Committee of Chicago (WOCC) was founded by fast-food and retail workers in November of 2012. After realizing we were facing similar issues, we decided that we needed to unite for better wages, working conditions, and respect on the job. WOCC members represent 26 major national brands including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Yum! brands, Walgreen’s, Macy’s, Sears, and Victoria’s Secret. The “Fight for 15” campaign demands a $15 living wage and the right to form a union without retaliation.
In the Chicago area there are 275,000 low wage fast food and retail workers. The median wage is $9.07 for fast food workers and $9.36 for retail workers. An adult with one child needs to make $20.86 an hour working full time in the Chicago area just to afford the basics, according to the MIT living wage calculator. Fast food is a $200 billion a year industry and retail is a $4.7 trillion industry. Despite their large profits, these companies force workers to rely on taxpayers. We depend on food stamps, Medicaid, and other forms of public assistance so we can take care of our families. Our economy is stronger when workers have more money in the pockets and don’t have to rely on help from the government.
Since our founding hundreds of us have come together, shared our stories with the press, and gone on strike. The editorial boards of the New York Times, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Baltimore Sun, the Boston Globe, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have all backed our campaign. We have won concrete victories in our work sites like raises, promotions, increased hours, and changes in store policies. 150 cities and 30+ countries joined us during the last worldwide strikes and protests. Everyday more of our co-workers are joining with us to fight for a living wage.