Pittsburgh Wage Protests Take Place on “Day of Disruption”

Jacob Bryant, Staff Writer


“Hold your burgers, hold your fries. We want wages supersized.”  Anyone in the East Liberty region of Pittsburgh last Tuesday likely heard a slogan such as this being chanted by protesters. These demonstrators were participating in the national ‘Day of Disruption’, a part of the ‘Fight for 15’ movement.

The ‘Fight for 15’ movement is a nationwide effort to attain higher pay, union rights, and immigration reform for low-wage earning workers.

On November 29, workers around the country marched out of their jobs and into the streets to protest the legal minimum wage and workplace conditions.

The demonstration began at 6:00 am, with workers marching outside of Pittsburgh McDonald’s locations.

A little after 4:00 pm, workers for organizations such as UPMC, McDonald’s, and Giant Eagle staged protests along Penn Avenue and on Penn Circle.  The protests were all peaceful, and the demonstration lasted about two hours into the evening.

After reaching the McDonald’s between Forbes and Liberty Avenue the protest ended.  However, a number of demonstrators remained, blocking the roadway and eventually being arrested.

Pittsburgh police have confirmed that a total of 19 people were arrested during the event.

Compared to ‘Day of Disruption’ protests in other cities, Pittsburgh’s was rather uneventful.  A reported three-dozen people were arrested in Cambridge, Massachusetts; other major cities such as Detroit had as many as forty.

Through the entirety of the demonstration, protesters behaved peacefully.  It was only at the conclusion that those few were arrested, and even then without resistance.

Emily Schaffer, the spokeswoman for the Pittsburgh police, later said that the demonstration was “All peaceful. No problems.”

This was the first ‘Fight for 15’ rally to be held since Trump’s win in the presidential election.

As with many topics, Trump’s stance on minimum wage is unclear.  At first he called for the minimum wage to be lowered.  However, he more recently stated that it should be raised to at least $10 an hour.

The current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, having been set as a federal standard after the provision passed in 2009. From 2008 to 2009 the minimum wage was $6.55 an hour; from 2007 to 2008 it was a meager $5.85 an hour.

Some states such as New York and California have already reached a $15 minimum wage, although this is not an accurate representation of the majority of states.  Most states have an average minimum wage that’s not too much higher than $7.25.

The fight for a higher minimum wage is far from done, but with consistently growing support a change in the near future is likely.