Fast Food Workers Tired of the Heat and Demand Higher Pay

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Fast Food joints were a lot emptier then usual last week as hundreds of fast food restaurant workers in New York City walked off their jobs in protest of low pay.

Workers at local McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and other fast food chain restaurants are campaigning for boost pay to $15 an hour. They also want the right to form union without interference As many as 400 employees walked out. 

The minimum wage in New York is currently $7.25 an hour, which works out to only $15,000 a year for a full-time workers

A similar walkout happened last November, but it only managed to round up around 200 workers – hardly enough to make a blip among the city’s hundreds of quick-serve restaurant. 

The workers were led by Fast Food Forward, a community based group – whose memo is making enough to live instead of barely getting by – is part of the national movement of low-wage workers fighting for a better future. 

Jonathan Westin, campaign manager for Fast Food Forward, told CNN that dozens of workers walked off the jobs at the Times Square McDonald’s. Also that the Burger King on Flatbush avenue, barely opened their doors because of the number of workers who are on strike. 

“It’s not teenagers working after-school jobs,’ said Westin to CNN. “It’s adults with families that are trying to take care of their kids and can’t put food on the table. They can work here for 10, 15  years and still be making the same wages as when they stated.”

Last month New York State voted to pass a budget that included plans to raise the state minimum wage to $9 an hour by the end of 2015. For the full-time worker that would only mean a yearly income of $18,000. But even with the hike, workers are concerned that New York’s minimum wage would remain below the roughly $11 hourly pay needed to lift a family of four above the poverty lines.

President Obama posed raising the federal minimum wage in his State of the Union address as a way to help lift some workers out of poverty. But critics, including the restaurant industry say that such a move would kill jobs by burdening small businesses with higher cost. 

In a statement the National Restaurant Association said the industry provides more than 13 million jobs – jobs that could be jeopardized if the minimum wage goes up. In a statement, the association said the industry is “one of the best paths to achieving the American Dream.”

In response to the protest McDonald’s issued a statement saying it treats their employees with dignity and respect while offering competitive wages. 

The strikers choose Thursday’s date because it marks the 45th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. 

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