‘Fight for $15’ protest shuts down Broadway, draws arrests; four pols cuffed while calling for higher minimum wage

Cops arrested more than two dozen people, including four elected officials, early Tuesday for shutting down Broadway in a protest over the minimum wage.

By 8:15 a.m., 26 people had been arrested on Broadway at Liberty St. near Zuccotti Park — the site of the Occupy Wall Street protests that began in 2011, officials said.

“They blocked the street on Broadway,” a police source said.

Cops arrested City Council members Brad Lander, Mark Levine and Antonio Reynoso and New York State Assemblyman Francisco Moya for the protest that took place in front of a McDonald’s there.

“Fast food workers have led the Fight for $15 with their courage, bold vision, solidarity across race and gender and vision for economic fairness,” Lander said. “They have transformed what is possible for low-wage workers and inspired so many others to take action. That’s why I’m getting arrested today.”

Tuesday’s arrests started at about 6 a.m. The protesters were part of the Fight for $15 movement, which advocates a $15-an-hour minimum wage for workers.

The protesters were all charged with disorderly conduct.

Organizers said hundreds of fast food and airport workers, Uber drivers, messengers and community members marched from Zuccotti Park through lower Manhattan as part of a national day of action.

A marching band led as they carried signs reading “We won’t back down.”

“We are here today because we face retaliation in our stores for the gains we’ve made in our pay and for our continued effort to fight for better jobs,” said Jorel Ware, who works at a McDonald’s in Upper Manhattan.

“I’m ready to face arrest and put my own safety and freedom on the line.”

Yolie Jean Benoit, who works for PrimeFlight at JFK Airport, said, “Every day we face disrespect at work and poverty at home. Today we are showing ourselves and the world that we stand with the McDonald’s workers no matter what.”

After the sit-in in front of the McDonald’s, protesters moved on to Newark Airport to demand a $15 minimum wage for workers there.

Airport workers planned to call on contractor PrimeFlight to recognize their union rights, raise wages and provide benefits to its workers.

“It feels great to have so many community members out here with us showing their support,” said Jahnay Tucker, who works at a Chipotle in the Bronx. “We are here to send a message loud and clear to our employers that we won’t back down. We are going to keep fighting for the good jobs we deserve.”

Uber drivers and messengers and taxi drivers have also joined the Fight for $15 and formed a caravan at Zuccotti Park to protest the “gig economy,” which leaves them struggling to make enough just to maintain their cars.

“When I first started driving for Uber in 2013, I could support my family working five days a week, but Uber has repeatedly slashed driver pay while at the same time taking a larger cut of our earnings,” said Inder Parmar, an Uber driver and member of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

“Uber’s profits have skyrocketed while my income has plummeted and now I have to work seven days a week to make ends meet.”

Hundreds of union members and community groups joined the marchers to show their support.

“After four years, fast food, airport and other low-wage workers have made big gains in New York, but there is still so much they are fighting for,” said 32BJ President Hector Figueroa. “The members of 32BJ are proud to stand with these workers.”

Other elected officials also added their support.

“New York City will never back down when it comes to supporting our workers,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “While we’ve made some great progress this year, still far too many of our workers are subjected to unfair work arrangements, denied benefits and don’t feel safe in their employment.”

“I am always proud to stand with those who are fighting for dignity and justice in the workplace,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. “The Fight for 15 is about a deeply moral question — will we be a society where hard work pays a living wage? We must all answer yes, and fight to make that answer a reality.”


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