Fast-Food Workers Arrested At Protests

'Fight for $15' events staged in cities from New York to L.A.

Carol Kopp/AOL Jobs A Philadelphia police officer arrests a protester at fast-food workers' rally Sept. 4, 2014

Protesters were arrested at demonstrations in cities across the U.S. on Thursday, as employees stepped up the pressure on America's fast-food giants to raise their wages.

Demonstrations by employees and union supporters were held outside McDonald's and other chain restaurants in as many as 150 cities. An estimated 500 protesters were arrested nationwide, according to organizers.

The workers are seeking an increase to $15 an hour, nearly double their current average salary. Restaurant work is America's lowest-paid job segment.

The action kicked off Thursday morning with the reported arrests of 19 protesters outside a McDonald's in the middle of New York City's Times Square. About 400 demonstrators chanted and waved signs, while customers streamed in and out of a giant McDonald's on West 42nd Street, according to The New York Daily News.

As the day rolled on, demonstrators were arrested in Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Little Rock, Las Vegas and San Diego. Ongoing coverage and comments can be followed on Twitter at #fastfoodstrike.

Philadelphia's lunch-hour protest was a civilized affair, with about 200 protesters, union supporters and on-lookers surrounded by police gathering outside a McDonald's restaurant a block from City Hall. A Baptist minister spoke and a folksinger led the crowd in protest songs before police attempted to clear the intersection for traffic. About a dozen protesters invited arrest by refusing to move after a request by a police officer. One officer was overheard telling a protester that he sympathized with his goal, but had to do his job.

The National Council of Chain Restaurants, an industry trade group, dismissed today's protests as "choreographed activity" stage-managed by unions. "While it is common for labor unions to stage events in order to grab media attention, encouraging activities that put both restaurant workers and their customers in danger of physical harm is not only irresponsible, it's disturbing," said a statement from Rob Green, executive director. "Unions are calling it 'civil disobedience' when in reality, this choreographed activity is trespassing and it's illegal."

Hoping to turn the heat up on more low-wage employers, the movement's organizers added another service industry to the mix: Home care workers were invited to join Thursday's protests.

St. Louis is one big city that was spared protests, in light of the recent turmoil in nearby Ferguson that followed the shooting death of a young man by a police officer. Workers from St. Louis outlets reportedly traveled to events in nearby cities.

Thursday's demonstrations were the latest round in a series of protests that began almost two years ago, coinciding with a national debate over the federal minimum wage, currently set at $7.25 an hour.

The group, which has been funded by the Service Employees International Union, was buoyed by a Labor Day weekend shout-out from President Barack Obama. In a speech in Milwaukee, the president noted, "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."
Carol Kopp/AOL Pastor Larry Patrick leads a prayer at Philadelphia fast-food workers' rally on Sept. 4, 2014.

In his speech, the president repeated his call for an increase in the federal minimum wage. "There's no denying a simple truth: America deserves a raise," he said. "If you work full-time, you shouldn't be living in poverty."

Vice President Joe Biden delivered a similar message at a Labor Day event in Detroit. "The American people have not walked away from what they believe they are entitled to. Just give them a chance. No handout, just give them a chance," Biden said in his speech to a union crowd.

The movement also got a shot in the arm from the National Labor Relations Board, which recently ruled that McDonald's Corp. shares responsibility for the workers who wear its uniform. Restaurant workers are employed by franchisees, not by the parent corporation. But the board ruled that both bear legal responsibility for working conditions.

An increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour has been sought by Democrats but stalled in Congress due to Republican opposition. In the absence of federal action, many state and municipal governments have moved to raise their local wages, to as high as $15 per hour in Seattle.

Opponents of a hike in the minimum wage warn that it would be a job-killer. However, a recent study indicates that 12 of the 13 states that have raised their minimum wages have recorded job growth.

Home care workers, who assist house-bound elderly and disabled clients, make a median wage of $10.10 an hour, with some paid as little as $8.03 hourly, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median pay for fast food workers is currently $8.74 per hour.

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rgordon593

How many of these folks are employed union members attending or organizing these protests at the bequest of their union and with a paid holiday?
Where's the investigative element of the ComPost's article regarding this dimension? Or is full disclosure too enlightening?
Worthy of more "journalistic" inquiry is that this is more about an attempt to bolster the ranks of the respective union sponsors than about an actual increase to the worker's themselves. It's also about what is EXPECTED of the employer rather than what one should demand from themselves. The personal stories of teen pregnancies, HS drop-outs, and part-time positions define these jobs more than any other reasons or rationale.

September 22 2014 at 8:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nick

those loosers need to get a education first then you can justify a $15.00 an hr pay rate

September 08 2014 at 5:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gere Minnick

First off, these jobs never where supposed be the type someone could support or raise a family on. They were entry level beginner jobs normally/traditionally held by teens and first time workers seeking to gain some experience and employment history to build upon for getting their next level job. Now that the Obama recovery has thrown so many unskilled workers into the same job market a teenagers and illegal aliens, who habitat most of these positions, suddenly a livable wage is being used to describe the pay rate that's now desired for basically an unskilled worker.

September 08 2014 at 12:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Woodstock

MickeyD's is supposed to (IMHO) be a place for your kids to learn to start into working life.....responsibility, things like making change!!! although they don't there....the cash registers are computerized so that "skill" may never be learned.....SADLY!!! Fast food service was my intro into the "workplace" after carrying newspapers, mowing lawns & snow shoveling were behind me......I did those until I was 14 to 15 as there was little to no age requirement......started my paper route at age 9.....it was supposed to be limited to age 11 or 12 but since my brother had to have his apendics taken out when I was nine and I subbed for him for 3 weeks which included one round of collections....(that's getting the money from the customers)....they made an exception as I had "proved" myself. When I was about 11, the Sioux City Journal changed their policy of paying for the papers with cash and required that we have a checking account to pay them.....when we were being taught in school around the 9th grade about checking accounts......I could have taught the class :o)

As my Dad owned a truck stop when I was very young, I learned about making change when I was not even in kindergarten yet!!! More recently, at Mickey-D's my tab was something like $3.37 so I put down a $5 along with a dime & 2 pennies & asked for all quarter back for Parking Meter use.........I was given TWO $1's along with 2 quarters, a dime & 3 pennies....and my dime & 2 pennies, too.....when I tried to explain that I was given too much back, she called out a Manager that was at least in his late 20's who thought I was trying to pull a "quick change" sceme on the girl.......I tried to tell him that I was given too much back and wanted to make it right so the girl didn't come up short.....the Manager couldn't figure out the TIME OF DAY!!! I was then given my $5 back...told to keep the extra $2 and all the change laying around a got my lunch, too!!! I don't think computerized cash registers do anybody any "favors" by creating a class of people that can't make change to save their lives (or jobs, for that matter) Incredible.....

September 08 2014 at 2:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Woodstock

MickeyD's is supposed to (IMHO) be a place for your kids to learn to start into working life.....responsibility, things like making change!!! although they don't there....the cash registers are computerized so that "skill" may never be learned.....SADLY!!! Fast food service was my intro into the "workplace" after carrying newspapers, mowing lawns & snow shoveling were behind me......I did those until I was 14 to 15 as there was little to no age requirement......started my paper route at age 9.....it was supposed to be limited to age 11 or 12 but since my brother had to have his apendics taken out when I was nine and I subbed for him for 3 weeks which included one round of collections....(that's getting the money from the customers)....they made an exception as I had "proved" myself. When I was about 11, the Sioux City Journal changed their policy of paying for the papers with cash and required that we have a checking account to pay them.....when we were being taught in school around the 9th grade about checking accounts......I could have taught the class :o)

As my Dad owned a truck stop when I was very young, I learned about making change when I was not even in kindergarten yet!!! More recently, at Mickey-D's my tab was something like $3.37 so I put down a $5 along with a dime & 2 pennies & asked for all quarter back for Parking Meter use.........I was given TWO $1's along with 2 quarters, a dime & 3 pennies....and my dime & 2 pennies, too.....when I tried to explain that I was given too much back, she called out a Manager that was at least in his late 20's who thought I was trying to pull a "quick change" sceme on the girl.......I tried to tell him that I was given too much back and wanted to make it right so the girl didn't come up short.....the Manager couldn't figure out the TIME OF DAY!!! I was then given my $5 back...told to keep the extra $2 and all the change laying around a got my lunch, too!!! I don't think computerized cash registers do anybody any "favors" by creating a class of people that can't make change to save their lives (or jobs, for that matter) Incredible.....

September 05 2014 at 8:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rubyreddpa10

Kevin, there are people working at McDonald's that have a degree that can't find a job elsewhere just maybe not in your town. A degree has nothing to do with it. Most restaurants have a pay for their waitresses that are extremely low and they depend on their customer's tips to make any kind of a living. Having children without a father has nothing to do with it either. Their are many people on assistance who DO WORK, no not all of them. I have worked my entire life and I'm 62, no I've never had any kind of assistance. Working in a restaurant, nursing home, etc. are all low paying jobs and these jobs are jobs you have to WORK at so don't feel all alone when you think you are the only person in the world working their A-- off. Pipe liners, gas drillers, coal miners, truck drivers all work very hard at their jobs also amongst the many others that are not mentioned. You act like a egocentrically preppy jerk who parents probably put you through college, if not, you certainly act like one.

September 05 2014 at 1:59 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
kkevinwillis

if you want more money, go back to school get an education. then go get a CAREER not a J O B.
I personally think it will be so funny!!!! if they do get the pay raise, then McDonalds goes out of business all because they raise the prices of their food to pay these idiots. now what will you do? picket
unemployment/welfare/food stamps and every other government hand out you can get?
oh no let me guess you will blame me for working my a_ _ off to buy the things I want and give my family
what they need and want?

September 05 2014 at 11:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mrandmrs300

I KNOW PEOPLE WHO WENT TO SCHOOL TO BECOME MEDICAL BILLERS AND THEY PD THOUSANDS TO LEARN WHEN THEY START THEIR JOB ITS 10 PER HR AS TIME GOES ON THEY GET THE RAISE SOME R STILL NOT MAKING 15HR SO HERE WE HAVE PEOPLE WITH NO EDUCATION WANTING 15 HR SO NOW TO THOSE WHO WENT TO SCHOOL WHATS THE POINT I THINK ITS SAD

September 05 2014 at 10:41 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to mrandmrs300's comment
d1anaw

AND THEN THEY DON'T LEARN NOT TO TYPE ENTIRE POSTS IN CAPS.

September 05 2014 at 9:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mccallc0819

OR HOW TO USE A PERIOD

September 22 2014 at 4:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dedndogyrs

Why do these people have several children on such low wages? Why not wait until something better can be obtained? And for God's sake why do women have children without a husband?

September 05 2014 at 10:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to dedndogyrs's comment
cptsujet

For the same reason they drop out of school......they don't care

September 06 2014 at 6:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jjatkelly

That is such a stupid question it almost doesn't deserve an answer! How about , their husbands left them or possibly died while in the military! Lots of possibilites they don't have husbands but do have children. That being said, $15 @ hr is way too high for fast food workers. Sadly, the food itself isn't worth it and the reason people even buy it is for convenience and price.

September 08 2014 at 12:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dedndogyrs

I think these people should have more money but $15.oo is an excessive demand.

September 05 2014 at 10:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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