Fast-food workers walk off jobs, demand more money

Protesters outside KFC on East Belt Boulevard in Richmond. (PHOTO: Joe St. George)

Protesters outside KFC on East Belt Boulevard in Richmond. (PHOTO: Joe St. George)

NEW YORK (WTVR/CNNMoney) — Fast-food workers walked off their jobs in dozens of cities on Thursday, demanding a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

Workers in Richmond joined strike marches in New York City, Philadephia, Boston, Raleigh, N.C, and other major U.S. cities, according to union organizers. They expected workers to strike in 50 cities and several countries.

Protesters outside KFC on East Belt Boulevard in Richmond. (PHOTO: Joe St. George)

Protesters outside KFC on East Belt Boulevard in Richmond. (PHOTO: Joe St. George)

Nakiel Clemons went on strike outside Burger King, where he works in Durham, N.C..

Nakiel is 33 years old and has a one-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son. He earns $7.45 an hour and said he can’t survive on his meager earnings.

“I can’t worry about my manager seeing me on the strike line, I have to speak out,” said Nakiel.

In Philadelphia, Justice Wallace, a 19 year old Subway restaurant worker also marched in the heart of the city. She earns $7.50 an hour and recently joined the National Guard to help supplement her income.

Protesters outside KFC on East Belt Boulevard in Richmond. (PHOTO: Joe St. George)

Protesters outside KFC on East Belt Boulevard in Richmond. (PHOTO: Joe St. George)

“I believe all the companies heard us today and I feel good about that,” said Wallace, who has a two-year-old daughter.

In New York, Luis Vasquez took a break to talk to CNNMoney outside a Domino’s Pizza, where strikers gathered for a midday rally.

Vasquez is 19 years old and works at a Chipotle outlet in Grand Central Station earning $9 an hour. He helps support his mother and sibling.

The family is on food stamps and he said the government helps “pay the rent.” A high school graduate, Vasquez started going to college, but had to drop out because “work got in the way.”

“What I am trying to say to companies today is share the profit … We are not asking for cars or fancy vacations, we just want to feed our families,” said Vasquez.

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

The “Fight for $15″ campaign started in New York in November 2012, when 200 fast-food workers demanded $15 and the right to form a union without retaliation.

Union organizers say the movement has elevated the debate about inequality in the U.S. and helped raise the minimum wage in some states.

The movement in its current leg has also gone global. There were reports of protest marches in Tokyo, Seoul and London.

–CNN’s Laurie Frankel contributed to this report.

The-CNN-Wire
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7 comments

  • Tracy

    Keep on walking! Don’t like your wage we can find an illegal Mexican to do your job. Oh that’s right! Soon to be legal!

  • Damian

    Here’s an idea. Work two jobs. I did, my parents did, and their parents did. You do what you have to do to take care of your family.

    Being paid technical worker wage for an entry level position is ludicrous. Way to go? Yeah, wait until that hamburger costs $10 in order to make those union crooks rich. Ask General Motors and Chrysler what happens when wages and benefits are forced to astronomical levels by the union horde. You pay $20,000 for car that isn’t worth $5,000.

    Represent yourselves and stop letting the government and unions do it for you. The American Dream has become the Great American Handout.

  • Bill Goss

    Pay our soldiers who serve us, work 24/7/365…work in horrendous conditions and weather, not to mention, many do and have to, daily, face an enemy who is trying to kill them.

    Many of their families are on assistance, too, and the Government is trying to take away from them.

  • Richard

    Really , those jobs are not for full time career person, if you do then get the training for management . Other wise fast food sandwich, fry an drink will be 25$ not affordable and you are back to not being able to afford it again even with 15 hr. Job is not designed for family. Should have thought about that before having a family.

  • Josh

    If you are an individual who only earns $9.00/hr perhaps you should be a little more introspective and ask yourself why I only make $9.00. As a previous $9.00 employee I quickly figured out how to make more money. Take pride and ownership in your position, better yourself each day. Exceed the expectations of your supervisors and complete your duties with out having to be told to do so. The foremost thing that will ensure you succeed, integrity.

    You must be a leader and want to do better; if not resign to the fact that you are and will always be worth the effort you display.

  • concerned

    These jobs were not meant to be a source of income to support a family. They are there as supplemental income or for teenagers looking to make a little money. I started out in fast food and worked there as I got an education so that I could have a job that would support a family. Just another thing that makes you say hmm!

    • Shelly

      I agree with all the comments here. Especially that these jobs are for teens and get 2 jobs if you have to work here as an adult. Integrity, as stated, is also important. Go to school to get a better paying job.

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