Fast Food Strike Wendys 28Aug2013
Activists protesting low wages at a Wendy's restaurant in Brooklyn, N.Y. Reuters

Organizers of a movement demanding a $15-an-hour wage for fast-food workers say they will sponsor one-day strikes in 100 cities on Thursday and other protest activities in another 100 cities, the New York Times reported.

The first protest began last November, when 200 fast-food workers coordinated a one-day strike across more than 20 restaurants in New York City, including The Wendy's Company (Nasdaq: WEN) and McDonald's Corporation (NYSE: MCD). That was the first such walkout in the nation’s fast-food industry.

The growing movement includes the groups Fast Food Forward and Fight for 15, and is supported by the Service Employees International Union. The low-paid workers are demanding that restaurants allow workers to unionize without the threat of retaliation, in addition to a $15-an-hour wage.

According to the National Restaurant Association, increasing wages to $15 an hour -- when the federal minimum wage is $7.25 -- would force restaurants to rely more on automation and hire fewer employees.

Industry officials say a small percentage of fast-food jobs pay the minimum wage and that those are largely entry-level jobs for workers under 25.

Those backing the movement for higher wages cite a study from UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that says 67 percent of core fast-food workers are 20 or older and more than one-fourth are parents raising children. Movement backers like Fast Food Forward maintain that fast-food jobs are twice as likely as other jobs to pay so little, forcing workers to rely on public assistance, and advocates say that raising pay for fast-food workers will benefit the entire economy.

At the end of August, fast-food strikes took place in more than 50 cities. This week, groups including USAction and United Students against Sweatshops, will join the protests.