Fast food workers walk off job in wage protest
It's going on in New York City, Milwaukee, Detroit, and in Indianapolis. Fast food workers in 50 cities across the country are on strike, all with the same message. They want to make $15 an hour.
Before dawn, they lined Meridian Street demanding a raise. Workers walked off the job at the McDonald's restaurant at 16th and Meridian at 6:00 a.m.
"Pay me what I'm worth. That's all I'm saying. Nothing else," said one McDonald's employee.
What he and other workers say they're worth is $15 an hour. They also want the right to unionize.
"Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Poverty wages got to go," protesters chanted.
Billed as a strike, most of the three-dozen or so people protesting do not actually work for the company. Dwight Murray was among four or five present who do.
"We feel that $15 would be sufficient. Just based on the workload and what's asked of us," he said.
The owner of the McDonald's on 16th St. wouldn't go on camera but he said he pays all of his employees at least $8 an hour to start, and he said he pays managers $10 an hour. He's currently hiring.
McDonald's released this statement:
"We provide training and professional development for all of those who wish to take advantage of those opportunities. Our history is full of examples of individuals who worked their first job with McDonald's and went on to successful careers both within and outside of McDonald's."
"We are proud to provide a place where thousands of people, who come to us asking for a job, can enter the workforce at a starting wage, gain skills and advance with us or move on to something else," Wendy's said in a statement.
While those demonstrating acknowledge there may be opportunity for some, they say there needs to be a living wage for all.
"These are mothers, these are fathers, these are folks who are trying to support their kids, and unfortunately when they're paid so little, they can't support their kids so they're on food stamps. They're getting government-subsidized healthcare and that means we're subsidizing the McDonald's and Taco Bell business model," said Prof. Fran Quigley, IU McKinney School of Law.
That model relies on a steady stream of customers wanting to pay low prices and until now, employees willing to work for minimum wage.
In Los Angeles, protesters marched in front of a Burger King while holding signs saying they'd like to be "lovin' a living wage."
In Wilmington, Delaware, demonstrators took their message inside the Burger King where they work.
In New York City, protesters crowded the sidewalk outside of a Wendy's while chanting, "Workers united will never be defeated."
In Chicago, protesting workers stood outside a Wendy's and wore "fight for 15" T-shirts.
Similar strikes have taken place in seven other cities earlier this summer with protesters basically saying that they are living in poverty despite the fact that they have full time jobs. They say they simply can't make ends meet with the amount of money they're making.
Here is the break-down of current pay and what workers are asking:
- Current Minimum Wage: $7.25
- Annual Income: $13,920
- Demanding: $15
- Annual Income: $28,000
President Obama has called for increasing the minimum wage to $9 an hour - still far below what the workers are demanding.