Fast-food workers are tired of being paid like fast-food workers. A national strike is underway Thursday and many metro workers are joining in on the protest.
One protest started about noon with dozens of workers at the Church's Chicken on Eastwood Trafficway in Kansas City, MO, walking off the job. The same thing was seen earlier in the day at a Burger King in Kansas City, KS.
The bottom line, they say, is they want a big raise. Protestors are calling for $15 an hour and union rights without retaliation.
"I'm struggling to pay my bills and take care of my kids and I'm tired. I feel I deserve more and I'm worth more," Jen Miska said.
Miska makes $9.43 an hour at her fast-food job where she's worked for about 2 1/2 years.
Right now workers make at or near minimum wage. Advocates say the employees aren't making enough to pay for the basic necessities of life.
"I'm a father and I have kids to take care of and a family to provide for and it's hard to do on $7.35 an hour," Terrell Bullock said.
Bullock and his girlfriend have three kids together. Both he and Miska rely on government assistance to pay the bills and even then many months they come up short. They believe $15 an hour will help them get off of government assistance and still provide for their family.
"I'll be able to pay my bills and buy my kids clothes at the same time and not have to divide - 'do I get the kids shoes or what are we going to eat or how am I going to get to work?'" Bullock said.
"We have workers who are being evicted, workers who are homeless, workers who have no heat in the winter time because they're not being paid enough money. Studies show that a living wage here in Kansas City with one parent and a child, which so many of our workers do have children, is $17.20 and so we're asking for $15 an hour so these workers can just pay for the basics," said Gina Chiala with Stand Up Kansas City.
But the issue is a tough one for some to swallow, asking for more than double minimum wage when many others are in the same situation, such as cashiers, clerks and stockers. Many are left to ask why fast-food employees should get the significant bump and what would it do to the cost of food for consumers, many of whom are also facing tough financial times.
Chiala said, in the end, it should help, not hurt everyone.
"It's going to put money in their pockets they wouldn't otherwise have to invest in the economy and everyone is going to do better," she said.
Chiala went on to say that the corporations can afford to pay employees more and just choose not to.
McDonald's released a statement Thursday saying, "At the restaurants run by McDonald's USA less than 10 percent of the roughly 14,000 we pay salaries that begin at minimum wage, but range up from that figure depending on the job and employee's experience level."
Workers will be striking throughout the city and the country for the rest of the day. They planned a rally at Grove Park Thursday afternoon and another walk-off at the McDonald's on Prospect Avenue at 5 p.m.
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