For nearly two years, fast-food workers and economic-justice protesters allied with the Service Employees International Union have been picketing and demonstrating -- they call them "strikes" -- to demand a $15-an-hour wage for fast-food workers.
As part of a coordinated nationwide campaign, Thursday in Boston a fluctuating crowd of around 200 people gathered in Downtown Crossing to rally and arrange to be peacefully arrested by Boston Police for blocking traffic in the intersection of Congress and State Streets. Nine people were detained on disturbing-the-peace charges and removed in police prisoner wagons, but a department spokesman said they were never formally put under arrest, just issued summonses to appear in court later to face the charges.
Officials from McDonald's, Burger King, and industry trade groups stressed that the demonstrations that occurred Thursday are made-for-media events that are part of a richly funded campaign by the SEIU to get a union-organizing foothold inside big national food chains. Pay levels and benefits, they say, are up to local franchisees.
But two years into the campaign, Theresa Jordan, who said she makes $9 an hour working at a Boston Burger King, said she believes Thursday's escalation to civil disobedience will make a difference. "We're not joking. We're serious," Jordan said. "That's the message they're going to get. We're not joking. We're going to do whatever it takes -- whatever it takes."
With videographer John E. Stuart