Fukami, an expert in unions and labor disputes, says these workers are taking that risk, in hopes that publicity from the walk off will win them public support. She says in recent years the public has become more sympathetic to the plight of minimum wage workers.
"I think their timing is better now than it was four years ago because the economy is in much better shape. You can look at the positive votes on minimum wage throughout the country as a sign that people really understand that $8 an hour is not sufficient for a family," says Fukami.
Colorado recently passed a plan to gradually raise the minimum wage from the current $8.31 per hour to $12 per hour by the year 2020.
The contract workers at O'Hare include janitors, baggage handlers, and maintenance workers. They are not part of a union and have fewer protections that union members. Service workers around the country are calling for a federal minimum wage of $15 dollars an hour.