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Fast-Food Workers Take Demand for Higher Wages to McDonald’s

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Thomasine Wilson joined others at a protest for higher wages for fast-food workers outside the McDonald's at Hull Street and Commerce Road. - ASH DANIEL
  • Ash Daniel
  • Thomasine Wilson joined others at a protest for higher wages for fast-food workers outside the McDonald's at Hull Street and Commerce Road.

Leah Taylor has worked at the Kentucky Fried Chicken on Belt Boulevard for six years. She says her $8.90 hourly wage means she can’t afford to eat the food she helps prepare all day.

“We do too much work for the amount of pay we receive,” Taylor said as a group of fast-food workers made signs in the Hull Street Library.

A national strike advocating a $15 an hour salary for fast food workers gave Taylor and about 75 others a chance to air their concerns. Marching from the library in the rain, the group stopped at the McDonald’s at the intersection of Hull Street and Commerce Road.

The hope was that the employees would join in a one-day strike. As the assembled group chanted and gave media interviews, the McDonald’s employees stayed put. Inside, a few employees glared at the protesters from the window as others ignored them and continued their work.

“We don’t want to lose our jobs,” one employee behind the counter told Style.

Organizers said one McDonald’s employee was on strike that day, but didn’t get picked up in time for the protest.

Crystal Travis, who works at a Burger King in Mechanicsville, said she chose not to go to work today. She had worked at the Hull Street McDonald’s, but her old bosses turned her and the group away.

“They want to keep their workers ignorant to the fact that (striking) is your legal right,” she says.

The strike, largely organized by the Service Employees International Union, was expected to take place in 100 cities across the country. A public relations representative inside the Hull Street McDonald’s declined comment and forwarded a statement from McDonald’s spokesperson Lisa McComb, who said the chain’s pay is competitive and that the day’s protest was being mischaracterized as a strike.

“Our restaurants remain open today - and every day - thanks to our dedicated employees serving our customers,” McComb said in the statement.

Travis and Taylor said they had no fear of retribution from their employers.

“I’m too tired to be scared,” Taylor said, adding that tomorrow, “I’ll go back to work. Hopefully it will wake them up. We need to be heard.”

Travis says until more workers can strike without fear of losing their jobs, it will be difficult to get fast-food restaurants to listen.

“If everybody who was scheduled to work today walked out, it would make a bigger difference,” Travis said.

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