KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Kansas City fast food workers are part of a national movement to increase their base pay. They are asking for nearly double the minimum wage in Missouri.
Under the golden arches, workers at McDonald's say they need more pay to make ends meet. It’s a fight for $15 per hour.
At Saint Mark’s Lutheran Church along the Troost Corridor, second generation fast food worker Terrence Wise remembers his mother’s career in fast food.
“I always thought life was good. I thought she was happy,” Wise said.
His father worked as a military cook. Later, he found out the truth about his childhood.
“We were still getting food stamps. I come home sometimes, and the lights would be off,” Wise voiced.
At age 16, he started to skip school to work. He got a job in fast food like his mother and 20 years later, he is still in the business.
Wise is now a manager at McDonald's and makes $11 per hour. The father of three teenage girls, now the face of a movement.
“I’ve been fighting for $15 an hour and a union so my daughter’s future is not my present,” Wise stated.
Wise has shared his story in front of former President Barack Obama at the White House. His test came last week when he testified for five hours in front of Congressional lawmakers.
“And to be able to testify and tell my story as a working American who is struggling in the richest nation in the world,” Wise said. “They probably never heard a story like that which is not an anomaly, as I remind them millions of Americana’s struggle like that.”
The Bureau of Labor statistics latest data shows Food and Beverage workers made on average $9.81 per hour across the US. That’s a little over $20,000 a year.
Missouri’s minimum wage is at $8.60 and will gradually rise to $12 an hour by 2023.
But four years is a long time to climb. Wise and fast food workers in Kansas City have joined a nationwide protest demanding more and now.
“It’s not only for what’s right, it’s what’s morally right in this country,” Wise voiced.
The Missouri legislature has blocked cities from raising their minimum wage.
Wise knows this is not a fight they will win overnight.
McDonald’s told the Washington Post that its average hourly wage is more than $10 an hour.
That comes out to almost $21,000 a year.