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Booker, O'Rourke, Buttigieg rally with striking McDonald's workers in South Carolina
Democratic White House hopefuls Cory Booker and Beto O'Rourke rallied with striking McDonald's workers in South Carolina on Saturday as they try to gin up support in the crucial early voting state.
The New Jersey senator and former Texas congressman appeared alongside the workers in Charleston as they demanded a $15 wage. Calls for a bump in the federal minimum wage and support for labor movements and unions have become staples among the 24-candidate Democratic primary field.
"What kind of nation will we be? Will we be a nation where a family who works full-time jobs can have the American dream, or will we be one where corporate power denies equality, denies justice and denies that dream?" Booker asked.
"I say it is time for us to be a nation that dreams again, that has the courage and the defiance to say, 'I dream of a nation where everyone who works a full-time job can make a living wage,'" he added.
"We need to make sure that in every single community, in every single state, every single person has the right to organize. It's the only way that we're going to $15 an hour for every person as a floor from which they can rise to greater wages," O'Rourke told those striking. "Any great change that we have ever seen has been purchased by the sacrifice of those who are willing to fight for it. That's why we came here today."
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), another White House candidate, rallied with McDonald's workers in Las Vegas on Friday. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also appeared with striking workers in Iowa earlier this month. South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg also appeared with the strikers in South Carolina Saturday.
"You look at the way that wages have slipped in America. You look at the fact that a rising tide does not lift all boats. And you look at the numbers over as long as I've been alive and what you see is: the economy is growing and too many workers are being left out," Buttigieg said. "And you look at those same numbers and you see something else: fewer and fewer workers belong to a union. And we can change that. But it's not going to change on its own. That's why we need to demand more. We demand more from McDonald's. We demand more from the White House. We demand more from Congress. Everybody has to step up and get this done."
In addition to fighting for a pay raise, McDonald's employees also striking for the right to form a union and against workplace sexual harassment.
Several Democratic presidential contenders are jockeying for support among working-class voters as they campaign against income inequality and other economic issues.