Fast-food workers march in Kansas City for higher minimum wage - KCTV5 News


Fast-food workers march in Kansas City for higher minimum wage

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Thousands of fast food workers are expected to strike in 190 cities Thursday, demanding a $15 an hour wage. (AP) Thousands of fast food workers are expected to strike in 190 cities Thursday, demanding a $15 an hour wage. (AP)

Thousands of fast food workers are striking in 190 cities Thursday, demanding a $15 an hour wage.

In 2013, the average pay for restaurant workers was $8.74 per hour.

Workers from McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, KFC, Domino's and other chains are striking Thursday, with some demonstrations in Kansas City. Other cities include Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego and New York City.

Organizers say these strikes are peaceful, and they gathered again at 12:30 p.m. at an unannounced metro location.

This time, the fast-food workers were joined by airport workers in nine cities, as well as home healthcare workers and gas station workers. They are all asking to be paid a minimum of $15 an hour.

Iraq war veteran Steven Wilkerson earns $8.50 an hour working at a combined Dunkin' Donuts, Quizno's and Godfather's Pizza joint that's located inside a gas station in Tampa, FL. He spent over a year interviewing for jobs after he left the Marines before landing this one.

"I haven't had a raise in eight years. It's frustrating because they say I do a good job, but yet it doesn't show on my paycheck," said mother Sharonica Parker.

Parker is going to college and raising three kids. She and others at Thursday's Kansas City protest don't think a higher wage and the right to form a union is too much to ask.

“If it was that easy as the public says, then my drive-thru wouldn't be packed every day. People would make their own sandwiches and because they don't make their own sandwiches lets me know I'm needed," she said.

Crystal Nelson was among the gas station workers. She said she works for $7.50 an hour.

“I was homeless for 12 years with my children and I believe that fighting for this pay will bring me out of poverty,” she said. “I don't even bring home $500 every two weeks and it's really hard to get by, my rent is almost $500."

Wilkerson believes the protests are leading to change, in fact, this will be his third time striking. After he picketed earlier this year, his manager began to train him to become a shift manager, a title change that should come with a raise.

"I can't say that wouldn't have happened if I hadn't protested, but I think speaking out has made it happen faster," he said.

Police kept watch to make sure that the protests didn't get out of hand or onto private property.

“They're making sure we're doing a peaceful demonstration, so I understand that and I'm glad that they're here, in case things did get out of hand," Parker said.

A lot has happened in the two years since fast-food workers first took to the streets of New York City to demand at least $15 an hour. The issue of fair worker pay is now on the public's mind, and state and local lawmakers have begun to respond.

Dozens of states and cities have raised the minimum wage for workers in all types of industries to well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25. San Francisco and Seattle both voted to raise pay for local workers to $15 an hour.

Chicago lawmakers voted on Tuesday to hike the city's wage to $13 by 2019, while Washington, DC has adopted a plan to raise its hourly minimum to $11.50 by 2016.

Starting next year, businesses with federal contracts will have to pay a minimum of $10.10 an hour, thanks to an executive order signed by President Barack Obama.

"When they were planning to strike and ask for $15 an hour in 2012, people thought they were crazy," organizer Kendall Fells said.

"Two years later, it doesn't sound so crazy," he said.

But none of the fast food chains, which are the actual targets of the protests, have committed to an across-the-board wage hike.

Those participating say the momentum is only growing and they will continue to meet and do more demonstrations until they have fair pay.

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