An estimated 500 workers from various fast food restaurants and retail stores around Chicago went on strike this morning. The employees, from restaurants like McDonald’s and Subway and stores like Sears, Nike, and Victoria's Secret, are demanding an increase in the minimum wage—to $15—and for the ability to unionize.

Chicago's strike is being modeled after a similar action from late last year, when fast-food workers in New York City banded together to create the biggest strike in the industry's history. Like their Chicago counterparts, the New York strikers were asking for a state minimum-wage increase to $9 an hour. Months later, that wage remains at $7.25.

Though the Nation reports that a $15 minimum wage in Chicago is "likely unwinnable," the strike sheds light on the fact that one reason Chicago is so plagued by gun violence may be due to the fact that many of its residents live life constantly under financial duress. In 2011, a study found that "nearly one-third of the employed Chicagoland population ages 18-64 worked in a job paying too little to support an individual."

[Image via AP]