In U.S. cities as close as Dallas and as far as New York fast food employees protested the minimum wage on Thursday. Workers walked out of some restaurants, and at other locations protesters picketed for higher minimum wages and the right to unionize in the loosely knit national protest that spanned over 100 American cities, according to reports by USA Today.
The same media source now reports those protests have spread across the globe, and have materialized at McDonald's restaurants as far as Auckland, New Zealand and Seoul, South Korea. The campaign, funded by the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, dates back as far as November of 2012 and aims to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour and give employees the right to unionize without recourse from management.
“These workers are fighting for $15 per hour because that's a wage that will allow them to cover their basic needs and help lift our entire economy,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of SEIU in a statement issued on the organization's website May 15. “By putting more money into the pockets of workers in fast-growing service sector jobs, we can get our economy moving again and rebuild the middle class.”
According to a 2013 study by the UC Berkeley Labor Center and the National Employment Law Project, 52 percent of “front-line fast food workers must rely on at least one public assistance program to support their families.”
This assistance, the report asserts, costs U.S. taxpayers $3.8 billion a year. UC Berkeley Labor Center puts the median age for fast food employs at 28.
Graham resident Kem Dears, 54, works at the McDonald's restaurant off Highway 16 and started at $7.50 per hour. He's been there six months and is up to $8. Dears said he is in the minority though, with a majority of the staff ranging from high school students to people in their mid-20s.
Read the entire story in Wednesday's Graham Leader.