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Bay Area Joins Workers Across Country in National Minimum Wage Protests

The campaign seeks higher hourly minimum wages, including for workers at fast-food restaurants and airports.

Protesters starting off East Oakland marched along International Boulevard on Tuesday, mirroring what others across the country were fighting for by chanting and holding signs that said: "Fight for $15 Day of Disruption.”

The Bay Area News Group reported that the protesters shut down the intersection at International Boulevard and 98th for a time early Tuesday morning. In Oakland, the current minimum wage is $12.25 an hour. On Jan. 1, it goes up to $12.86 an hour.

"It's not just a stepping stone," Rico Johnson, a Taco Bell worker told NBC Bay Area after protesting in Oakland. "People rely on this. I myself have a college degree. But because of my childcare issues, I’m stuck where I’m at right now.  I’d like to maintain a respectable standard of living."

A second Bay Area protest was held at San Francisco International Airport. San Francisco's minimum wage is now $13 an hour. That will rise to $15 an hour in July 2018.

The sentiment from drivers, fast-food workers, maids and airport employees across the nation for better pay and healthcare were the same and being played out with similar actions in New York, Boston, San Diego, Los Angeles to Chicago and other cities. All of it was part of the National Day of Action to Fight for $15. The campaign seeks higher hourly minimum wages, including for workers at fast-food restaurants and airports.

While the protests were largely peaceful, there were reports of arrests across the country. About 25 protesters were arrested in lower Manhattan after linking arms and sitting on a lower Manhattan street. They were among about 350 people at the rally.

Participants chanted "We shall not be moved" and waved signs that read "We won't back down" and "Strike for $15 and our future."

Fast-food worker Alvin Major, 51, of Brooklyn, said he supports four children and a wife recovering from cancer.

"Fifteen dollars is just a number," he said. "If we could get one dollar and one dollar could take care of our health care, housing, food and everything, that's what we need."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation last April that gradually raises New York's minimum wage.

Workers across Chicago, including at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, began to walk off the job over union rights and an hourly wage of $15.

About 500 workers at O'Hare committed to strike on Tuesday. They include cabin cleaners, janitors, wheelchair attendants and baggage handlers. The workers are employed by private contractors. Strike organizers say many work for minimum wage. They're trying to unionize with the help of Service Employees International Union Local 1.

Organizers say they expect delays and disruption, particularly for United and American airlines. But Chicago Department of Aviation officials say they don't anticipate disruptions.

There were also reports of protests in Charlotte, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Minneapolis in addition to many other cities across the U.S.

Thirty-four Boston-area workers were arrested after protesters gathered in Central Square in Cambridge, at Logan International Airport.

In Los Angeles, the first protest began at 6 a.m. in downtown L.A. with another rally scheduled for noon at Airport and Century boulevards just east of Los Angeles International Airport. Officers made several arrests. 

NBC Bay Area's Pete Suratos contributed to this report.

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