Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
At least 200 people marched down International Drive Thursday afternoon to let Orlando's tourists and residents know one thing: "We can't survive on $8.05."
The group was part of thousands of workers striking in 300 U.S. cities
for a $15 minimum wage and a union. In Florida, Miami, Hollywood, Tampa and West Palm Beach also saw protests from fast-food, health-care, child-care and other low-wage workers. The protests come after both New York and California agreed to raise their minimum wage to $15.
"In Florida, low pay forces about one-third of underpaid workers to rely on public assistance to support their families, costing taxpayers over $11 billion a year," says Jackie de Carvalho, spokesperson for SEIU Florida, in a press release. "And nationwide, nearly three-quarters of people aided by public assistance are members of a family headed by a worker, costing taxpayers more than $150 billion."
Orlando's protesters blocked traffic on I-Drive until they reached the "World's Largest Entertainment" McDonald's on Sand Lake Road. Police officers and McDonald's customers looked on as they chanted "We work! We sweat! Put $15 on our check."
Shantasha “Cookie” Ross brought along her 4-year-old daughter to the protest.
Nearby, Sodexo employees who work at Disney World protested at the Crossroads of Lake Buena Vista near Disney Springs for a union, says Eric Clinton, president of UNITE HERE Local 362. Clinton says about 340 people employed by the third-party vendor work in the cafeterias that serve Disney employees.
"We want a fair process in place where we're able to sit equally across the table and negotiate a contract, which includes wage increases, vacation amounts," he says. "Schedule changes and treatment by management are issues. We want fairness on the job."