News

Fast-food workers walk off jobs, rally for higher pay

Fast-food workers walk off jobs, rally for higher pay

HIGHER PAY: Fast food workers attend a protest against McDonald's outside one of its restaurants in New York, Dec. 5. Photo: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz

By Elizabeth Dilts

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Fast-food workers in hundreds of cities across the United States kicked off a day of strikes and rallies on Thursday to demand a higher minimum wage. The largest job actions were expected in New York and Washington, organizers said.

Workers want the federal minimum wage raised to $15 from $7.25, saying the current rate is not enough to live on. Critics counter that doubling the minimum wage would cost jobs, forcing employers to cut back on the number of workers.

In New York City, where some 57,000 fast-food workers earn an average of $8.89 an hour, protesters were picketing at one McDonald’s restaurant shortly after dawn on Thursday.

In Washington, federal contract workers at the McDonald’s inside the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum walked off the job, and about 150 people assembled to picket outside the building.

“While McDonald’s rakes in tons of money from its contract with the federal government, I have to walk to work because I can’t even afford the bus fare,” Alexis Vasquez said in a statement issued by organizers of the Smithsonian’s McDonald’s workers.

Thursday’s demonstrations come after protests held on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, by Walmart workers at about 1,500 U.S. stores. There were also strikes by fast-food workers in dozens of cities in August.

Fast-food workers say that today’s minimum wage is not adjusted to inflation, as Congress has done since the first minimum wage was set in 1938.

They say they are forced to rely on federal aid to support themselves and their families.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau and public benefit programs show 52 percent of fast-food cooks, cashiers and other staff relied on at least one form of public assistance, such as Medicaid, food stamps or the Earned Income Tax Credit program, between 2007 and 2011, according to researchers at the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Illinois.

Some economists also argue that increasing the minimum wage could help stimulate the U.S. consumer economy because workers would have more money to spend.

Recent Headlines

in Weird

Woman gets stuck in chimney trying to sneak into home

Fresh
chimney

It took firefighters two hours to free a woman who was trying to make a Santa Claus style entry into the home of a man she met online.

in Weird

Teacher uses ‘Wheel of Misfortune’ for discipline

Fresh
school

A Washington state teacher has been warned not to have students spin a disciplinary "Wheel of Misfortune" to assign punishments for misbehavior.

in Sports, Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: College mascots ‘Shake It Off’ parody

Fresh
12-overlay3

Big Ten mascots show off their dance moves to Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off."

in Music

Led Zeppelin plagiarism case to be heard in Pa.

2012 Kennedy Center Honorees and members of the band Led Zeppelin, from left, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Robert Plant chat on the red carpet after arriving at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors Performance and Gala Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 at the State Department in Washington.

Led Zeppelin have lost the first round in their plagiarism battle over mega-hit "Stairway to Heaven."

in Viral Videos

If ‘WALL-E’ was a Christopher Nolan film

15-overlay3

Take a look at Pixar's "Wall-E" reimagined as if it was created by the director of "The Dark Knight."