Thousands of low wage fast food workers showed that they are ready for a fight this week as they walked off their jobs in seven cities across the country—the largest strike by fast food workers in U.S. history and part of a growing movement calling for a living wage and the right to unionize.

“It’s a dramatic showdown between an embattled labor movement and an industry that increasingly not only is prevalent in the United States economy, but really represents where jobs are going in the United States economy,” reporter Josh Eidelson told Democracy Now! “This is a mammoth industry, and so it’s not one that’s going to concede quickly. And so, we’re going to see this continue to escalate.”

Workers in retail chains across New York City, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Milwaukee, Kansas City and Flint staged actions Monday through Thursday.

“This is not a flash in the pan,” a spokesperson from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) told Common Dreams. “This is definitely something that is ongoing.”

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The demonstrations were organized by SEIU alongside local labor and fair wage organizations including Fast Food Forward, Fight for 15 and Stand Up Kansas City.

Hundreds of workers walked off their jobs throughout Chicago on Wednesday and Thursday, gathered at a mass rally. 

“The excitement is contagious,” said Walgreens worker Alex Yekulis. “We have a coworker who wasn’t planning on going on strike, but who just decided to walk out with us.”

The strikers were from a broad spectrum of retail chains including Macy’s, Wendy’s, Forever 21, Potbelly, Sally’s Beauty Supply, Bed Bath & Beyond, Chik-fil-A, Nordstrom Rack, Caffé Baci, Nike, Protein Bar, Mrs. Fields, Sears, Jason’s Deli and Victoria’s Secret.

These retail and fast food outlets “are among the country’s most profitable, but their workers take home poverty wages to the city’s poorest neighborhoods,” said Katelyn Johnson, executive director of Action Now. “Every dollar invested in a living wage will raise up the economy for all of the city’s neighborhoods.”