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Fast-Food Strike Sweeps Globe as Workers Push for $15 an Hour

Image: Fast-Food Strike Sweeps Globe as Workers Push for $15 an Hour Demonstrators holding posters march to demand higher wages for fast-food workers in Tokyo's Shibuya shopping and amusement district.

Friday, 16 May 2014 10:52 AM

By Ken Mandel

A fast-food strike swept the globe Thursday as hundreds of workers in more than 30 countries protested in search of $15-an-hour wages and the right to seek union representation.

Fast-food giants like Burger King, Wendy's, and KFC were all represented in the non-violent day of protests aimed at the $200 billion industry. Employees in U.S. cities New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, among others, as well as those in Germany, Japan, and the U.K. all participated in the strike.

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Naquasia LeGrand, 22, of Brooklyn, New York, told USA Today that she was attending her sixth protest since 2012. Employed as a cashier at Kentucky Fried Chicken in the upscale Park Slope neighborhood in Brooklyn, LeGrand said she earns $8 an hour, but pays $1,300 a month in rent.
 


"We live in New York City — a multibillion dollar city," she told the paper. "These corporations . . . are making all this money. It's only right that we come together."

Service Employees International Union, which is more than 2 million members strong, financed the worldwide protest and Fast Food Forward organized it.

"At the end of the day, there is more than enough money to pay these workers $15 an hour," Fast Food Forward leader Kendall Fells told USA Today.

Chipotle employee Luis Vasquez came to the New York City protests wearing a T-shirt that read, "Stick Together for $15 and a union."

At 19, Vasquez earns $9 an hour and is the main source of income for his family, which lives off food stamps and uses government assistance to "pay the rent."

"What I am trying to say to companies today is share the profit," Vasquez told CNN Money. "We're not asking for cars or fancy vacations. We just want to feed our families."

The "Fight for $15" campaign began in November 2012, when 200 fast-food workers in New York demanded $15 an hour and the right to unionize without retaliation. Organizers told CNN that they feel the push has raised awareness regarding income inequality in the U.S. and prompted minimum-wage increases in some states, including Vermont.

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