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'Super-size' strike: Why fast-food workers walked out for higher wages

After nearly a year of protest in New York City, fast-food workers expanded their picket lines Thursday to dozens of cities to demand $15-an-hour wages. Strikers say many workers are older, some supporting families, and can't live on $7.25 an hour.

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"If they give you a raise, it's like 10 cents [an hour],"  she said. "I'm like, 'Really? You guys make millions and billions a year.' "

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Asia Editor

Chelsea Sheasley is the Monitor's Asia Editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine.

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Denver

“Zendra Flores is a single parent making $8 an hour at a Subway sandwich shop on Federal Boulevard in Denver,” reports the Denver Post. “Flores wants to go back to school but is worried about supporting her 6-year-old. 

"I am not looking to stay in fast food forever, I'm looking for another job with better wages, but I still think this is good to support," Ms. Flores said. "At first I thought the $15 was steep, but then I started thinking about it and that is what it would take."

Kansas City, Mo.

“Morris Cornley, 57, began working as a delivery driver at a Jimmy John's gourmet sandwich outlet in Kansas City, Mo., early last year, after he was laid off from his $45,000-a-year truck-driving job. He earns $7.35 an hour and works about 33 hours a week, taking home $370 or so every two weeks after taxes,” according to USA Today.

"I'm not really living – I'm surviving," said Cornley, who plans to take part in demonstrations Thursday.

"These are the jobs that are out there – fast-food jobs," he said. "I could be in this industry for quite a long time and, if I am, I'd like to make a living wage." 

Memphis, Tenn.

“These companies that own these fast food restaurants, they make way too much money off the backs of the employees,” Dearius Merritt, a 24-year-old worker at Church’s Chicken in Memphis who earns $13 an hour and plans on participating in the demonstrations, told Time.

“I’m in the store every day with these workers that make $7.25.… If I’m 30 years old and this is what I have to do to survive, then I deserve a living wage off of it.”

North Carolina

“I make $7.85 at Burger King as a guest ambassador and team leader, where I train new employees on restaurant regulations and perform the manager's duties in their absence. Before Burger King, I worked at Church's for 12 years, starting at $6.30 and ending at just a little more than $8 an hour,” wrote Willietta Dukes in a Guardian opinion column.

“I've never walked off a job before. I don't consider myself an activist, and I've never been involved with politics. I'm a mother with two sons, and, like any mom knows, raising two teenage boys is tough. Raising them as a single mother, on less than $8 an hour, is nearly impossible, though.”

Oakland, Calif. 

It's not fair that the top managers of our businesses make enough to put their kids through prestigious colleges, buy houses, and live well, and I am on food stamps and need public health care,” co-organizer Shonda Roberts of Oakland, Calif., told the San Francisco Chronicle.

"There are millions of people like me, and I think they can afford to pay us $15 an hour," she said. "We are worth it." 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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