Protests Held Over Fast Food Wages

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Fast food protests aren't going away.

Organizers say fast food restaurant workers in 100 U.S. cities, including Cleveland, will walk off the job Thursday, as part of a continuing push to raise wages above $15 an hour in the industry and secure the right to unionize.

Cleveland community organizations, labor groups and faith leaders gathered at noon outside the McDonald's on Memphis Avenue.

No workers were in attendance, only those advocating for them.

"Their work is valued, there is a support group here.  We do want to bring awareness to the fact that they are being paid poverty wages," said Pam Rosado.  "And work should be respected and should be paid well, at least a livable wage."

The movement began with a small walkout in New York City last year and has since gathered momentum. Strikes this past August drew fast food workers in 60 cities, organizers said.

The National Restaurant Association contends that the demonstrations are a "coordinated PR campaign engineered by national labor groups," and that "relatively few restaurant workers have participated" in past demonstrations.

A McDonald's spokeswoman said the events planned for Thursday "are not strikes," and consist only of outside groups "traveling to McDonald's and other outlets to stage rallies."

Industry officials have criticized the campaign, claiming increased starting wages will hold back job growth and increase prices.

The effort has drawn support from the Service Employees International Union, one of the country's largest, as well as activist groups. A MoveOn.org petition that has drawn nearly 50,000 online signatures calls on industry leaders "to pay your workers $15 an hour so they can make ends meet and Americans can stop paying for the hidden costs of poverty wages."

In Congress, a group of 53 lawmakers sent letters Wednesday expressing support for higher wages to McDonald's, Wendy's, Domino's Pizza, Burger King and Yum! Brands, which operates KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.

"We are proud to stand with workers who continue to fight for an economy that works for everyone," the officials wrote.

A McDonald's spokeswoman said Wednesday that the company is "committed to providing our employees with opportunities to succeed," offering competitive pay, training and the chance for advancement. Wendy's said it was proud to give entry-level employees "the opportunity to learn important business and personal skills so they can either grow with us or move on to another career."

Domino's rejected the "fast food" label, and said only three of its employees had taken part in the August protests, none of whom were scheduled to work at the time. The pizza maker said its delivery drivers make more than minimum wage with tips included, and that it serves as a second job for many employees who work only evenings and weekends.

"90 percent of our U.S. franchisees started as delivery drivers or at in-store positions," as did many other managers and corporate staff members, spokesman Tim McIntyre said. "We are a company of opportunity."

The other companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

President Obama also called out the plight of fast food workers in a speech Wednesday, saying they "work their tails off and are still living at or barely above poverty." He said it was "past time" to raise the minimum wage.

A report released in October by the University of California-Berkeley Labor Center and the University of Illinois found that 52% of families of fast food workers receive some form of public assistance. The report estimated that this aid carries a $7 billion annual price tag for taxpayers.

The median pay for the fast food workers nationwide is just over $9 an hour, or about $18,500 a year. That's roughly $4,500 lower than Census Bureau's poverty income threshold level of $23,000 for a family of four.

The rallies planned for Thursday follow protests last week at a number of Wal-Mart locations, where workers and activists have called on the company to grant workers more hours and pay full-time employees at least $25,000 a year.

--By James O'Toole, CNN

--FOX 8 contributed to this CNN report

60 comments

  • HelloLady

    Lol above $15.00 are these uneducated for real. Companies need to quit hiring high school drop outs and min wage is your class level

    • Eric Thompson

      I used to work for minimum wage, funny, I wanted to make more money so I went back to school so I could get a better job. That’s what’s great about America you can do anything you want here, you just need to want to work. On the other hand, do I really want to pay for McDonalds fat pill or pay the same price at a nice restaurant, hummm let me guess…

      • Rich Harris

        What all of you people don’t understand is the major corporations in this country have outsourced their high paying factory jobs to other countries and replaced good workers with automation. These are the people who are now vying for the fast food jobs that used to be beginner’s jobs for high school students. Many are older workers not quite ready for social security so they have to find something.

    • Brandon

      I hope they automate these jobs… I’m working on plans for the last few years to do this and it would make me filthy rich!

    • Bright Star

      Hello Lady, you need to reread your comment. Then really think about the fact that you called *the fast food workers* uneducated.

    • Leslie

      To miss lady who thinks all fast food wkers are uneducated. I am a clever grad & well educated. Your statement alone proves whatever education you got must have failed you. As well as having some class you can’t be tought that you either have it or not. You my dear do not. Next time you swing by ur local fast food spot we’ll b thinking of u.

      • Howard Belcher

        “…I am a clever grad & well educated….whatever education you got must have failed you. … swing by ur local fast food spot we’ll b thinking of u.”

        Wow.. talk about the pot calling the kettle black…. Leslie… if you you “got” education, you sure are not using it and that is most likely why you are stuck at a fast food place.

        Don’t be holding your breath for me to come through “ur” place, because I don’t eat at fast food places… ever.

  • Seth Marcum

    Raising minimum wage would only cause companies to inflate their prices and cut more jobs to be able to afford to have these workers so in the end there are even less jobs and there is no real increase to their standard of living because prices would have to increase at an almost equal rate to balance out the new, much higher, cost of production.

  • Joe Code stud

    Maintenance technicians in downtown cleveland start at $10 an hour for places like the Bingham or the Bridgeview or east 4th street buildings. Now that’s a big shame. These are plumbers and electricians and carpenters. They deserve a living wage. Some fancy buildings only pays $10 an hour for trained techs who were earning $20 hour fifteen years ago. And they have to be janitors too.

  • Fiona

    Let the fast-food workers have their higher wages – prices for fast-food meals can then be increased beyond belief, and the rest of us can boycott those establishments. Who knows? Americans might learn to eat healthier foods, begin to lose some excess weight, etc….. Good news all around, I’d say.

  • robert

    fast food industry is your new c -class job’s in america after sending all the manufacturing jobs to china pay them a fair wage not only for there labor but there time here on earth with is price less

  • Alex

    ER techs and paramedics around the city…that have REAL skills don’t even make $15/hr. If you want better pay, well…got to school and earn a degree or gain a skill.

  • Kristin

    $15/hr i feel is too much for food workers. Im a pharmacy technician having to deal with people’s drugs all day long and a lot of them are always angry and i dont even make $15/hr

  • Howard Belcher

    If you want to make $15/hour, then go get some skills. Go get a trade, go to college, whatever. If you can’t afford college, go into the military. There are options, but many of these people yelling for a higher minimum wage just are not willing to take the time and better themselves. We have a huge shortage of skilled labor in this country and yet too many people are unemployed…. why??? Because they want to be the next CEO of Google or Microsoft. Sorry people, most of us will never have those types of jobs.

    Raising the minimum wage will either put those companies out of business that rely in the unskilled low pay worker, or force them to raise their prices which means everything else will start to increase, in which case, they will be here in a few years demanding $30/hour jobs.

  • SoSueMe

    $15.00 a hr for flipping burgers! LM@O. I guess they feel working in a fast food restaurant is a career, instead of part-time job or a job for someone just startling to enter the work force untill they better themselves. Of course it hasn’t occurred to the ‘Einstiens’ that those out of touch higher wages will be passed on to all the McDonalds eating lard arses.

  • Grant

    You work at McDonald’s. I don’t care how much money you need or how many bills you have. Your labor is NOT worth $15 a hour. I literally thought this was a joke. Sick of this entitlement mindset. The world owes you NOTHING.

    • Brian P

      Walk into any McDonalds and tell any one of those workers that their time on Earth is not even worth the right to live….That’s basically what we’re saying by allowing a Multi-Billion dollar corporation to pay them below the poverty level.

      It’s easy to sit in the comfort of your own cozy house and tell someone you’re better than them. I dare you to say that to their faces!

    • Barbara Graham Murray

      Entitlement? These people work very hard, this comment is insulting. Mcdonalds makes billions everyday, why can’t they pay a living wage to its people without raising prices. Its Greed plain and simple.

  • Elizabeth Fields

    If you want higher wages go get an education and get a real job like the rest of us. Or maybe get several jobs if you wanna spend your life flipping burgers. Don’t think the government will pick up your slack…..oh wait I forgot about welfare.

    • Brian P

      Do you fill out an application to work at McDonalds? Do you have a boss at McDonalds? Do you receive a paycheck from McDonalds? Then I think it qualifies as a “REAL” job!

      If these Workers have to deal with the people that are making these ignorant comments on a daily basis, they should make $100k!

  • Bruce

    If the wages paid by an employer are so inadequate, why is there no shortage of workers? Pay is based on market conditions. Supply and demand. If the job you have can be done by a high school sophomore with a couple hours training, the pay is going to be minimal.

    • Barbara Graham Murray

      I agree with the post that these workers deserve a higher pay because they are standing up for it. If you are not getting what you deserve as far as pay then stand up for yourself and stop trying to put your foot on somebody else who is standing up for their self.

  • Nancy

    I might be more receptive to a pay raise if McDonald’s could get a 3 item order right! Last week I ordered 2 hamburgers and an order of fries. When I got home, I was missing a hamburger.
    I don’t think $9 an hour is bad for that job.
    The single mother trying to get by – perhaps she shouldn’t have gotten pregnant again if she is struggling already. Sorry if that sounds harsh.

  • Charley

    Anybody that chooses to make a CAREER serving fast food is a loser and deserves $7.25. They should have paid more attention in school–it was FREE!!! I like fast food but nobody needs it. I won’t pay more to support higher wages. I already paid taxes for the education they refused.

    • Howard Belcher

      I think that is a bit harsh Charley. There is nothing wrong with making a career out of working at a fast food place, but you have to realize, you will not be driving a BMW, and you will have to work more to get ahead. The issue is the people who work at these places and feel they are entitled to something. Heck, I wish I made twice what I did, but I know that is not going to happen unless I change what I do or the demand for what I do increases significantly.

      There are many people who work in fast food who do it to supplement their families incomes or as a first job… nothing wrong with that at all.

  • kim tanner

    I work as a cook . No they don’t deserve more. I just got to 9.50 after 16 years at this company. I am thankful to have a job at all. You can live on that you just have to realize you can’t have everything you want when you want it. I also work a second job. It would be nice to make 15 but it isn’t practical. They don’t get your orders right and a lot of them are rude and lazy.

  • Gina Ziegler

    I work for an Ambulance Company, I get paid $10.01 an hour to save lives ! Why do fast food workers think they should make more than me just to flip burgers? I also have to put up with people and management, I bet some of the people that are not so nice work in fast food!

  • Cherie

    I have worked for the same company for 13 years and STILL don’t make $15/hr. Get real folks. Life’s tough all over

  • Working My Butt Off

    Can’t raise a family of 4 on minimum wage? I feel your pain. It didn’t work for me either. That’s why I got an education and worked to find better employment skills for the future. Plenty of schools that will take government money and make your employment possibilities so much better.
    Oh, and that nagging little problem of not being able to support a family on minimum wage? Don’t have a family before you get out of high school and get an education that will ENABLE you to support them.

  • Hard working middle class mom with no degree

    When a person accepts a job or position, they accept the pay. If that pay isn’t adequate, you either look elsewhere or take it until you can find something better. I never spent one day of my life in college and I make a lot more than $9.00/hr. I actually make more than $15.00 an hour. I make this money because I chose not to settle for minimum wage. I applied myself and worked my way up to where I needed to be. While I make a good salary, i’m not wealthy. I’d like to be wealthy, but choose not to put the work in to become wealthy. It’s my choice. I would imagine that if I threw a temper tantrum and demanded my boss pay enough to BE wealthy, he would laugh me out of his office.

  • Jeff

    I could see two possible outcomes if this happens…

    1. Companies would replace people with machines. Fast food production would be fully automated.
    2. The cost would go up causing less people to buy fast food. Maybe then people wouldn’t be so fat.

  • Keola

    I have friends and co-workers who carry brick ALL DAY and they don’t get paid $10 hr. If fast food workers get paid more, fast food will cost more, and its not worth what it cost now. Horrible food, horrible service, etc. We pay for quality, and there is NO quality in a fast food place.

  • Working for a living

    I work in a fast food place for 10 years and I don’t make $15.00 an hour. I work second job which is full time and I don’t make $15.00 an hour there either. I have to work two jobs in order to make ends meet. I am not complaining. There are no jobs out there. There are lots of people with out jobs. If you go back to school to get a better job who is to say that you are going to get one.

  • Terrance Evanson

    I really feel that the core issue here is the upper management itself, a greed factor exists in every sector of business in our country. As our country degrades due to a larger spread in the sectors between poor and wealthy the crime rate will increase also. What most folks don’t realize is you cannot support yourself on 7 or even 10 dollars per hour in this economy, so the federal minimum wage needs to increase to 10.00 per hour immediately, no CEO deserves more than $500,000.00 annually and the executive sectors need to come back to reality. I support the right to find a better job if you do not like how much you are currently paid.

    • Gordon Gecko

      So what you are saying Terrance is Greed is not good? Okay, how many of these people who are complaining for $15/hr jobs with no skills have iphones, big scree TV’s, newer cars, etc…. give me a break.

  • Casandra

    people need to take a dose of reality… Working hard at a fast food restaurant should give you the motivation and incentive to move up and move on in your work life, not entitle you to $15/hr. There are MANY hard working people in this country, like nurses and paramedics, that do not make $15/hr. If you want to make more money, get training; go to school and get a higher paying job. I am tired of the fast food restaurants taking the heat for peoples problems…

  • Bill

    $15.00/HR. Really? They collectively all don’t deserve it. They should be paid on work performance, not an inflated minimum wage. If you cannot get someones order correct in the drive thru and I have to read my order on the screen to tell you that you have typed it in correctly or not, I should be getting paid. Then, look in the bag to find some of your order missing. Regardless of your pay, what happened to pride in doing your best at work in America? Values are lacking in this country. A lot of people looking for something for nothing.

  • judi

    It’s not only the fast food industry.
    Working for a bank is no better than working for fast food industry. I earn just as much as a McDonald’s worker. After 5 years of service I received $.24 an hour pay increase and have way more responsibility than a burger flipper. We all need to start fighting for better pay.

Comments are closed.

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