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Fast-Food Workers Walkouts Planned in 100 Cities

By Sandy Fitzgerald   |   Monday, 02 Dec 2013 02:59 PM

Organizers of a national movement that demands fast food workers' wages be raised to $15 an hour are planning one-day strikes in 100 cities across the country Thursday, along with protests in another 100 cities.

The union-backed effort will stretch to McDonald's, Wendy's and other fast food restaurants in cities such as Pittsburgh, Charleston, S.C., and Providence, R.I. for the first time, The New York Times reports.

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The national movement is part of a growing effort by low-paid workers that seek to focus attention on what they claim are inadequate wages. The efforts have grown significantly since last November, when 200 fast-food workers walked out for a day at more than around 20 New York City restaurants.

That strike was the first in the nation to affect the fast-food industry, but the movement needs to grow more, said organizer Kendall Fells.

“There’s been pretty huge growth in one year,” Fells told The Times. “People understand that a one-day strike is not going to get them there. They understand that this needs to continue to grow.”

Another walkout was staged on Aug. 29, when fast-food workers waged a one-day strike in more than 50 cities.

Several faith, community, and student groups, including United Students Against Sweatshops and USAction are expected to join in Thursday's protests.

The walkouts are being organized by groups such as Fast Food Forward and Fight for 15 and backed by the Service Employees International Union, which also demands that fast-food workers be allowed to unionize without being threatened with retribution.

However, the National Restaurant Association says that raising pay will come at a cost to workers because going up to $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, will force restaurants to hire fewer people and rely more on automation, The Times reports.

The movement's backers contend that the average age of fast-food workers is 29, and more than 25 percent of them are raising children, making a wage hike a necessity. But industry officials say that many fast-food jobs pay more than the minimum wage and usually people who make minimum wage are entry-level workers younger than 25.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is promising a minimum wage hike vote before the end of the year, reports ABC News. House Republicans, though, oppose the measure, so the plan may not be approved in both chambers.

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Minimum wage raises have succeeded in places like New Jersey, which raised its wages recently from $7.25 up to $8.25. California, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island also approved minimum wage hikes.

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