Hundreds rallied at the Thompson Center in the Chicago Loop to celebrate International Women’s Day and call for equal pay and respect for women on the job.
“I’m fighting for a future where my children and grandchildren don’t have to worry about harassment on the job,” Genoveva Ramirez, a janitor and member of the Service Employees International Union Local 1, who organized the rally, told the crowd. She added that she was fighting to strengthen language regarding sexual harassment in her workplace in contract negotiations. The union represents some 150,000 workers, including janitors, security officers, health care and home care workers, public workers, and more. According to remarks from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, some 70 percent of janitors in the Chicagoland area are women.
“We are here to say on International Women’s Day, women rise! Never be afraid to use your voice. Janitors are the ones who keep this city running,” Chicago Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski Garza told the crowd.
Women at the rally also called out fast food behemoth McDonald’s for what they said was an empty gesture from the company, which flipped its iconic golden arches upside down at some locations for the day. Several fast food workers who are part of the “fight for 15” movement to increase wages, carried signs that read “WTF McD’s if you really want to ‘celebrate women’ pay them fairly.”
“Thousands of us have organized & raised our voices in the #FightFor15 bc @McDonalds loves our labor,but doesn’t respect us as women or care about us,” Fight for 15 Chicago tweeted. “They don’t care that we live in poverty. A flipped arch doesn’t change that. We, together, make the change.”