San Francisco International Airport. (Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photo)

Bay Area workers rally to demand higher wages

UPDATE, 4;10 p.m.:  About 900 people rallied at San Francisco International Airport this afternoon to demand higher wages as part of a national “Day of Disruption.”

Around noon, a crowd made up of activists, fast food workers, airport workers, Uber and Lyft drivers, janitors, and home care and child care providers arrived at the airport’s International Terminal to rally, according to organizers.

The group demanded that corporations and cities pay workers at least $15 an hour and grant them rights to unionize, organizers said.

South Bay resident Francis Ballecer, who works part-time at Mineta San Jose International Airport, joined the SFO rally to demand higher wages for airport employees. Ballecer said he has asked for more hours at his job but hasn’t received them and is having a hard time supporting his kids and his wife, who works two jobs herself.

“I’m only working 25 hours, but with those hours I cannot afford to buy something for my kids,” Ballecer said. “I’m getting $12.50 an hour but it’s not enough. I live in Silicon Valley and it’s really expensive.”

According to airport spokesman Doug Yakel, the rally did not cause any disruptions to any flights and no one was arrested.

The rally was part of a larger national day of action in which many employees have walked off their jobs to participate in rallies happening at nearly 20 major airports and McDonald’s restaurants to call attention to low wages, according to organizers.

Earlier this morning, 27 people were arrested during a Day of Disruption rally in Oakland.

Between 150 and 200 people marched along International Boulevard, starting at 102nd Avenue and ending at 98th Avenue. Once at the intersection, many of the marchers began blocking traffic, police said.

Officers arrested protesters there on suspicion of obstructing traffic. Those arrested were eventually cited and released, according to police.

A final Day of Disruption event is planned for this evening at Oakland City Hall at 5 p.m. prior to a City Council meeting. During the 5:30 p.m. meeting, child care workers are expected to urge council members to raise the city’s minimum wage.

According to organizers, child care workers are being forced out of their profession because of low wages. That in turn affects families’ access to quality child care and strips children of learning opportunities before they start kindergarten.

While Oakland’s minimum wage is set to rise to $12.86 at the beginning of 2017, organizers say for a full-time minimum wage worker, the annual pay amounts to less than $27,000, which falls short of what families need to survive in the Bay Area.

California and many Bay Area cities have taken measures recently to slowly increase their minimum wages with hopes of ultimately bringing it to $15 an hour.

Earlier this month, the San Jose City Council unanimously approved raising the current $10.30 minimum wage in $1.50 increments, which would ultimately bring it to $15 by Jan. 1, 2019.

In August, the Berkeley City Council approved increasing the city’s minimum wage to $13.75 on Oct. 1, 2017, and then to $15 on Oct. 1, 2018.

In July, San Francisco also increased its minimum wage from $12.25 to $13 an hour as part of a series of increases that will see the city’s hourly wage climb to $15 by 2018.

Prior to that, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law in April that will raise the state’s hourly minimum wage for most employees to $15 an hour by 2022.

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