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Fast-food workers protest, walk out in push for higher wages

July 31st, 2013 2:52 pm by By Tammy Stables Battaglia, Detroit Free Press (MCT)

Fast-food workers protest, walk out in push for higher wages

Demonstrators in support of fast food workers protest outside a McDonald's as they demand higher wages and the right to form a union without retaliation Monday in New York's Union Square. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

DETROIT — Fast-food workers in the Detroit area walked out of area restaurants Wednesday in an effort to increase wages.

Workers said they don’t make enough to support their families. They pointed out that the average full-time fast-food worker makes $15,392 annually compared with an estimated $200 billion in annual industry earnings.

The protests are taking place this week in seven states and are affecting 89 sites in metro Detroit and Flint, Mich., according to D15, a group organized to protest on behalf of 50,000 fast-food workers in metro Detroit.

Workers would like to see the minimum wage raised to $15 per hour, said civil rights activist and Detroit 15 liaison Pastor W. J. Rideout II after protesting Wednesday morning outside the McDonald’s in Warren.

“The minimum wage workers are barely making ends meet with $7.45 an hour,” said Rideout, senior pastor of All God’s People Church in Detroit. “They can’t pay bills, can’t support their families. Minimum wage hasn’t increased but everything else has increased.”

Restaurants targeted include McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Long John Silver’s, Subway, Church’s, Checkers and Little Caesars, among others, according to the group.

Claudette Wilson, 23, of Detroit has worked off and on for three years at Burger King and makes $7.40 an hour. She said she was with a group of about 100 protesters at the McDonald’s on 8 Mile in Harper Woods on Wednesday morning.

“I work hard, and I don’t get enough for what I do,” said Wilson, who said she has worked as cook, cashier and in just about every position short of management off and on for the last three years. “They can afford to pay more for the workers who make the money for company. Better wages make for better workers.”

Some people might ask why fast-food workers don’t just get other jobs if they’re unhappy with their pay, but Wilson said that not everyone can get hired for a better-paying job.

In addition to working, Wilson, who lives with her mother, attends school at the Art Institute of Michigan and hopes to graduate in the next three years with a bachelor’s degree. She wants to become a music producer. If she made more money, Wilson said she would be better able to cover her school expenses.

“I would be able to invest in myself,” Wilson said.

Rideout, who also works on behalf of the organization Good Jobs Now, said workers will continue the protests, which also took place at locations in the region last month.

“Until change comes, as often as we have to,” he said in reponse to the question of how long the protests would continue.

He then headed off to a protest at the Taco Bell in Harper Woods .

The current protests began Tuesday night at a Checkers in Lincoln Park.

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