Fast-Food Strike to Raise Minimum Wage: Workers Walk Off

Friday, 06 Dec 2013 02:49 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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Fast-food workers from numerous cities around the country Thursday walked off their jobs in protest of current minimum wage standards.

Organizers claimed protests occurred in 100 cities, but The Associated Press noted that it was unclear just how many protests actually happened. Workers demonstrated in Boston, Charlotte, N.C., Detroit, Lakewood, Calif., and Phoenix.

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In Detroit, about 50 demonstrators turned out for an early rally in front of a McDonald's restaurant. The manager of the restaurant managed to keep the establishment open with workers who were not protesting.

The demonstrations were sparked by the Service Employees International Union, which has spent millions to organize the demonstrations. Protesters were demanding salaries of $15 an hour, which some call a "living wage."

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, or roughly $15,000 a year for a full-time worker. Numerous states have established their own minimum wages for employees. Washington state has the highest state minimum wage at $9.19. Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee don't have a state minimum wages.

The fast food lobbying arm, the National Restaurant Association, told The Associated Press that most protesters were union workers and that "relatively few" restaurant employees took part in strikes in the past. NRA officials said that the protests were a "campaign engineered by national labor groups."

Some legislators have pushed President Barack Obama to sign an executive order to force companies that contract with the federal government to pay their employees at least a "livable wage," according to Fox News.

"In the richest country in the world, no one working full time should be living in poverty," Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said in a statement.

The fight for higher minimum wages is an uphill battle. The competitiveness for low product prices between fast-food companies is one deterrent for raising workers' wages to the point that food prices would increase.

Another complication with fast-food establishments is that most local establishments of McDonald's Corp., Burger King Worldwide Inc., and Yum Brands Inc. are operated by franchisees.

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