Thousands of fast-food workers are planning to strike and take to the streets in 150 cities Thursday to protest income inequality and demand higher wages. The fast-food employees, some of whom work for as little as $7.25 an hour, want their pay bumped up to $15 an hour so they can make ends meet.
Hours before a rally was scheduled to start Thursday in New York City, about 25 protesters were arrested for blocking traffic while demonstrating outside a McDonald's in Times Square, NYC Fox affiliate WNYW reported.
McDonald's Corp. (NYSE:MCD) said in a statement that it supports a minimum wage increase, but didn't say whether it agress with workers who want $15 an hour.
"At McDonald's we respect everyone's rights to peacefully protest. The topic of minimum wage goes well beyond McDonald's; it affects our country's entire workforce. McDonald's and our independent franchisees support paying our valued employees fair wages aligned with a competitive marketplace," the company said, according to CBS Los Angeles.
Thursday’s protests are part of a two-year campaign to raise awareness of the plight of the fast-food worker, the latest having taken place in May. While the demonstrations haven’t led to an increase in the federal minimum wage, some states and localities have upped the minimum wage. Seattle raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour and Massachusetts residents will soon see an $11-an-hour minimum wage, according to NBC News. McDonald's Corp. is on record saying it supports a federal minimum wage increase, but not to $15 an hour, as demanded by its workers.
President Barack Obama has acknowledged the protests and referenced the fast-food worker movement during an address on Labor Day in Milwaukee, saying they deserved higher pay and the right to unionize. Earlier this year, Obama took executive action to institute a minimum wage increase from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour for employees working under new federal contracts.
“All across the country right now, there’s a national movement going on made up of fast-food workers, organizing to lift wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity,” he said. “There is no denying a simple truth: America deserves a raise.”
Fast-food workers from a number of major cities are set to strike. Protests are planned in Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and dozens of other cities.