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Fast-Food Workers Hit the Streets, Asking for Higher Wages

by Connor Ryan
A A
Protest.

Connor Ryan, WFUV

Fast-food employees in seven cities seek higher wages, right to form union.

Hundreds of fast-food employees in New York City hit the streets in protest on Monday. Their ask: at least $15 an hour, up from the current $7.25, and the right to form a union. It's part of a wider movement across seven cities that includes Chicago, Detroit and Kansas City.

Bronx resident Shamell Young, 22, was one face in a crowd of many Monday afternoon in front a Wendy's restaurant in Lower Manhattan. Young is a single mother and works at another Wendy's on 14th Street. She says the $7.25 she's making now is not enough to support her five year old son. Fifteen dollars, she says, would open up more opportunities.
 
"I can at least apply for an apartment," Young said. "I can at least have more money in my pocket ... Every two weeks it's gone. MetroCards, I got to buy my son clothes -- he runs out of clothes. It's hard. By the time next week comes, I'm already broke."
 
But the protests are facing resistance from the National Restaurant Association. Spokesman Andrew Mozzell says higher wages would hinder job growth and he highlights the perks for fast-food employees that will soon take affect.
 
"Restaurants operators will soon be required to pay for paid sick leave, and to pay for healthcare," Mozzell said. "And an increase in the minimum wage is already slated to take effect next year."
 
Employees protested in front of four New York City restaurants Monday, and gathered for a rally in Union Square.

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