Abdul El-Sayed, Rashida Tlaib among 18 arrested at Fight for $15 rally in Detroit


Abdul El-Sayed after being taken into custody for disorderly conduct at pro-labor protest:  "When you see injustice you stand up against injustice." - VIOLET IKONOMOVA
  • Violet Ikonomova
  • Abdul El-Sayed after being taken into custody for disorderly conduct at pro-labor protest: "When you see injustice you stand up against injustice."

Former gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed and future 13th District Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib were among 18 people cited for disorderly conduct at a rally today by Detroit fast food and other workers. The demonstrators were taken into custody outside the McDonald's on Woodward in Detroit's Midtown, where about 400 people gathered to demand the company and others allow workers to unionize.

"We've got people who are working 40-hour weeks and can't afford basic things like car insurance, a car, access to housing, water — and I just don't believe that we can advocate for work when work doesn't pay, and so we have to make sure work pays," El-Sayed said from the window of a Detroit police prison bus. "I don't believe anyone should have to go working 40 hours without making a fair wage."

El-Sayed was among a group sitting at a table set up on the street that police say refused to leave the area. Deputy police chief Elvin Barren said they would be issued citations for disorderly conduct.

The Detroit rally and a separate, morning rally in Flint were part of a daylong strike by fast-food workers at McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s. Red shirts worn by the demonstrators included a list of demands: "$15 minimum wage," "good union jobs," "healthcare for all," and "safety and justice for our neighborhood."

Rashida Tlaib addresses pro-labor demonstrators. - VIOLET IKONOMOVA
  • Violet Ikonomova
  • Rashida Tlaib addresses pro-labor demonstrators.

“You don’t deserve anything less than better worker conditions, than not having to live in poverty,” Tlaib told those gathered. “You can earn $15 dollars. These corporations are making billions off of our backs … Don’t you ever think think that you’re not allowed to ask for more."

In addition to fast food workers, demonstrators called for union rights for employees with Metro Airport, Little Caesars Arena, local hospitals, and the home care and child care industries, among others.

The Michigan strikes kick off a nationwide walkout by fast-food workers demanding union rights from their employers in battleground states on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4.

Organizers with Fight For 15 said the fast food and other workers also planned to knock on hundreds of thousands of doors in a canvassing effort to elect political candidates "who will use their power to make it easier for workers to win a union."

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