As threatened, fast food workers in 60 U.S. cities walked off the job and protested over low wages outside the nation’s major restaurant chains including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC and Taco Bell on Thursday.
“Rallies were held in cities from New York to Oakland and stretched into the South, historically difficult territory for organized labor,” according to Reuters. It was the largest protest in the nearly yearlong campaign geared towards raising wages. “The striking workers say they want to unionize without retaliation in order to collectively bargain for a ‘living wage’.”
The workers are demanding a pay raise to $15 per hour—that’s more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25. On average, fast food workers make just under $9 an hour, according to government data.
“It’s almost impossible to get by (alone),” McDonald’s worker Rita Jennings, told Reuters outside of a Detroit McDonald’s on Thursday. “You have to live with somebody to make it.” Jennings claims that after working more than ten years for McDonald’s, she hasn’t made more than $7.40 an hour.
New York City saw support from politicians including mayoral candidate and City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn. She held a sign that read “On Strike: Wages Too Damn Low.”
The protests came just a day after the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington rally, in which Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. One of the focal points of the March on Washington was raising the minimum wage to $2—which adjusted for inflation would equal more than $10 today. The current minimum wage is 23 percent lower than it was in 1968, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
None of the fast food chains have yet to raise wages as a result of the protests.
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Image: Low Pay is not OK