Fast Food Workers Are Staging Impressive, Nationwide Protests Today For Better Wages

Fast food protests Sept. 4(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)Protesters demonstrate in front of a McDonald’s restaurant in New York’s Times Square.

Fast-food workers in more than 150 U.S. cities are planning protests on Thursday to press for a wage increase to $US15 an hour and allow them to unionize jobs from the fry-basket at McDonald’s to the cash register at Burger King.

“We’re going to have walkouts all over the country,” said Kendall Fells, organising director of the movement called Fight for 15. “There are going to be workers who don’t show up to work or who walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. or at noon.”

Observing the various job actions will be international delegations of workers from 13 countries in Europe, Asia and South America, he said.

The protests come as cities across the United States propose minimum wage increases while Democrats in Congress seek to raise the federal minimum wage ahead of November’s mid-term congressional elections.

Fast food protests Sept. 4(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)Police officers prepare to arrest protesters blocking a street in front of a McDonald’s restaurant in New York’s Times Square.

A recent report by the Economic Policy Institute think tank found the typical worker in the restaurant industry makes $US10 an hour compared to $US18 an hour typically earned in other industries.

One in six restaurant workers, or 16.7 per cent, lives below the official poverty line, compared to 6.3 per cent of those working in other industries, the report said.

Fast-food workers are even poorer, earning an average of less than $US8 an hour, according to the Service Employees International Union, which supports the fast-food workers’ protests.

Fast food protests Sept. 4(AP Photo/John Locher)Handcuffed protestors, including Kris Varrette, right, chant for increased wages at fast food restaurants in Las Vegas.

“Nobody who works 40 hours a week should be living in poverty,” U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, said on Twitter. “I applaud the fast-food workers all across the country who will be striking on Thursday to raise the minimum wage to a living wage.”

The protests are the latest in a series over the past two years and were expected to take place in more than 150 cities including New York, Atlanta, Detroit and Los Angeles.

In Cleveland, hundreds of home health aides seeking better compensation were expected to turn out in a show of support for the fast-food workers, Fells said.

Fast food protests Sept. 4(AP Photo/David Goldman)Protestors demonstrate outside a Burger King fast food restaurant calling for workers to be paid a minimum of $US15 per hour in Chicago.

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This article originally appeared at Reuters. Copyright 2014. Follow Reuters on Twitter.

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