NEW YORK – Fast-food workers and labor organizers marched, waved signs and chanted in cities across the country on Thursday in a push for higher wages.
Organizers say employees planned to forgo work in 100 cities, with rallies set for another 100 cities. The protests are part of an effort that began about a year ago and is spearheaded by the Service Employees International Union, which has spent millions to bankroll local worker groups and organize publicity for the demonstrations. Protesters are calling for pay of $15 an hour, but the figure is seen more as a rallying point than a near-term possibility. Advocacy groups and Democrats are hoping to build public support to raise the federal minimum wage of $7.25. That comes to about $15,000 a year for full-time work.
On Thursday, crowds gathered outside restaurants in cities including New York City, Boston, Lakewood, Calif., Phoenix, Washington, D.C., and Charlotte, N.C. In Detroit, about 50 demonstrators turned out for a predawn rally in front of a McDonald’s. “I’m relying on aid, and $7.40 is not able to help me maintain taking care of my son. I’m a single parent,” said Julius Waters, 29, a McDonald’s maintenance worker.
The push for higher pay at fast food restaurants faces an uphill battle. The industry competes on being able to offer low-cost meals and companies have warned that they would need to raise prices if wages were increased. AP