LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Southern California fast food workers Thursday staged a walkout as part of their attempt to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The protest, the second since August, was organized by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and designed to pressure Congress into raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25, or about $15,000 annually.
Workers say many have to work second jobs and use public assistance to make ends meet.
“It’s very hard because I don’t work that many hours because they’re being taken away from me or I am not being scheduled enough to support myself and I’m making only 15 to 20 hours a week,” Simon Rojas said.
The strike is not getting backing from the White House as President Barack Obama said last month he will only support a minimum wage raise to $10.10 per hour.
The National Restaurant Association said Thursday’s walkout is a PR campaign in which a majority of participants are activists rather than fast food employees.
“The restaurant industry has been one of the few industries that continued to create jobs during the recession and economic recovery, offering opportunities to hundreds of thousands of new workers over the past couple of years,” Scott DeFife said. “Dramatic increases in a starting wage such as those called for in these rallies will challenge that job growth history, increase prices for restaurant meals, especially in the value segments, and lead to fewer jobs created. Business owners already face great uncertainty due to a lack of a clear economic plan from Washington and the health care law’s implementation. Calls to double the minimum wage only intensify the challenges faced by job creators.”
McDonald’s, which said its minimum wage jobs are meant for entry-level workers, released the following statement in relation to the walkout:
“McDonald’s and our owner-operators are committed to providing our employees with opportunities to succeed. We offer employees advancement opportunities, competitive pay and benefits. And we invest in training and professional development that helps them learn practical and transferable business skills.
We also respect the right to voice an opinion. To right-size the headlines, however, the events taking place are not strikes. Outside groups are traveling to McDonald’s and other outlets to stage rallies. Our restaurants remain open thanks to our dedicated employees serving our customers,” spokesperson Lisa McComb said.
Similar walkouts are planned for 100 cities across the country, including Seattle, Charleston and Pittsburgh.