KC fast-food workers protest, demand higher pay - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

KC fast-food workers protest, demand higher pay

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Fast-food workers across the country are walking off the job and going on strike Monday.

It is part of a nationwide protest as workers say they don't make enough money to live on and want a raise.

Kansas City is one of seven cities with fast-food workers walking off the job, including some employed at the Burger King at East 47th Street and Troost Avenue.

In Missouri, minimum wage is $7.35 an hour, which is 10 cents over the federal set minimum. Kansas has the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

Groups striking across the country Monday want to see that wage increase to $15 hour.

Participants call the protest a symbolic strike for higher minimum wage and the ability to organize labor unions amongst fast-food workers without retaliation.

Strike organizers say workers at a dozen fast-food chains in Kansas City, including McDonalds, Wendy's, Pizza Hut and Burger King, will be walking off the job.

The strike is expected to last through Tuesday.

Terrence Wise, who works at Burger King and Pizza Hut, said he lives in a relative's home where he is raising his three daughters. He cannot afford his own place.

"I'm homeless and I work here in this great country of ours," he said. "I don't get to see my kids for consecutive days because I work two jobs."

He said he hears the criticism that fast-food workers have low skills and are uneducated. He has heard the suggestions "that we should just go back to school and get a job.

"I enjoy working in the industry I work in," he said. "This battle that we're embarking on today is of historic proportions. If we don't stand up and say something ... these jobs are only going to get worse."

He said companies make incredible profits while workers see their living conditions get worse.

The minimum wage was set in 1938 at 25 cents.

Gina Chiala said increasing wages means workers have more money to pump into the economy.

"Everybody does better," Chiala said. "You shouldn't have to live without lights on and water in your house."

A living wage calculator by MIT looks at what people should be making to survive and what they are actually making. Click here.

The National Restaurant Association issued the following statement: 

"The restaurant industry provides opportunities for millions of Americans, women and men from all backgrounds, to move up the ladder and succeed. In addition to providing more than 13 million job opportunities, the industry is one of the best paths to achieving the American dream, with 80 percent of owners and managers having started their careers in entry-level positions.

"Restaurants operate on very thin profit margins. Significant additional labor costs can negatively impact a restaurant's ability to hire or maintain jobs. The cost of living varies greatly nationwide, while current proposals aimed at doubling the minimum wage would have a significant effect on the private sector's ability to create jobs, especially those typically filled by first-time workers and teens.

"Additional stats:

  • The average household income of restaurant employees that earn the federal minimum wage is $62,507. Also, the vast majority of restaurant employees that earn the federal minimum wage are not the heads of their household. Twenty-seven percent of minimum wage restaurant employees are heads of their house, while 50 percent are children or grandchildren of the household head.

  •  The restaurant industry is often the first working opportunity for a young person, and the minimum wage is typically a starting wage. Only 5 percent of employees in the restaurant industry make the minimum or starting wage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 77 percent of those earning the starting wage in the restaurant industry are part-time employees, 71 percent are under the age of 25, and 47 percent are teenagers.
  •  Teen unemployment is roughly 25 percent."

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