U.S. fast-food protests return amid push for higher minimum wage

The Associated Press
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NEW YORK—Fast-food workers and labour organizers marched, waved signs and chanted in cities across the U.S. Thursday to demand  higher wages.

Demonstrators rally Thursday for better wages outside a McDonald’s restaurant in New York as part of a national protest. Demonstrations planned in 100 U.S. cities are part of push by labour unions, worker advocacy groups and Democrats to raise the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Organizers say employees planned to forgo work in 100 cities, with rallies set for another 100 cities. But by late afternoon, it was unclear what the turnout was or how many of the participants were workers. At targeted restaurants, the disruptions seemed minimal or temporary.

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.

At a time when there’s growing national and international attention on economic disparities, 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 such as Boston, Lakewood, Calif., Phoenix, Washington, D.C., and Charlotte, N.C., where protesters walked into a Burger King but didn’t stop customers from getting their food.

In Detroit, about 50 demonstrators turned out for a pre-dawn rally in front of a McDonald’s. A few employees said they weren’t working, but a manager and other employees kept the restaurant open.

Julius Waters, a 29-year-old McDonald’s maintenance worker who was among the protesters, said it’s hard making ends meet on his wage of $7.40 an hour.

“I need a better wage for myself, because, right now, 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,” Waters said.

In New York City, about 100 protesters blew whistles and beat drums while marching into a McDonald’s at 6:30 a.m., chanting, “We can’t survive on $7.25!”

Organizations: Service Employees International Union, Democrats, Burger King

Geographic location: U.S., Boston, Lakewood, Calif. Phoenix Washington, D.C. Charlotte, N.C. Detroit New York City

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  • david
    December 06, 2013 - 13:18

    Just to summarize: These people demand that there be a substantial increase on the minimum wage you can pay someone, without any consideration for skills, effort or supply and demand. And these exact same people are among those vehemently opposed to allowing the most qualified and experienced business leaders from making whatever those who employ them, using their own free will and money, wish to pay them. Seems perfectly sensible.