LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Southern California fast food workers Thursday staged a walkout as part of their attempt to raise their hourly wages to $15.

Organizers with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) say the strike was designed to put pressure on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage from its current $7.25, which many of an estimated nearly 4 million fast food workers nationwide say is no longer livable.

The walkouts took place at several McDonald’s locations in addition to select Wendy’s, Taco Bell, El Pollo Loco and Jack in the Box restaurants. Officials said Thursday’s strike is the largest protest that has affected the $200 billion fast food industry.

Currently, California workers make approximately $9 per hour.

“The wage that we’re asking for is really a wage to take care of basic necessities of a person’s life,” Martin Rafanan, a community organizer in St. Louis, said. “If you’re not making that, guess who is paying for that, through government programs, through charitable and social service work? It’s our communities that have to pay that price.

“Why should our communities subsidize these corporations when they’re making huge profits?” he added.

Former McDonald’s USA CEO Edward Rensi told FOX Business the push for a minimum wage hike is less about income equality and more about political agendas.

“It’s all about union dues; it’s not about the minimum wage,” Rensi said. “It was designed for entry-level jobs to teach people soft work skills…it was never meant to be a career, it’s meant to be a career starter.”

Burger King issued the following statement to CBS2/KCAL9 Thursday:

“Burger King Corp. and its franchisees support and invest in the thousands of restaurant team members across the system. BURGER KING® restaurants offer compensation and benefits that are consistent with the QSR industry.”

Walkouts were also staged in Chicago, St. Louis, New York and dozens of other cities.

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