KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Fifteen dollars an hour is what striking fast food workers are demanding in Kansas City and across the nation. Rallies held on Thursday in the metro and 100 other cities called for doubling the minimum wage. These strikes began a year ago in New York City with 200 workers and on Thursday they spread nationwide and raised the question: What is a liveable wage?
“I've been here a year-and-a-half, I make $7.70, I started off at $7.25 and I struggle, I'm paycheck-to-paycheck,” McDonald’s employee Shannon Roberts said.
Roberts skipped her morning shift at a McDonald's to demand a starting salary of $15 an hour. A heavy police presence stood by while protesting fast food workers, clergy members and union organizers sought support from honking drivers for what they consider a living wage.
“I make $7.35 an hour and it's impossible to get by on it,” Jimmy John’s employee Morris Conley said.
Conley drove a truck until the recession hit. The 58-year-old found himself working at Jimmy John's with his 21-year-old granddaughter, or did until she quit.
"She didn't have no sick days, vacation days she couldn't take off to take her son to the doctor, so she had to do something different," Conley said.
FOX 4 asked a pair of fast food customers about $15 wages, who turned out to be fast food workers themselves.
“I think that's a little too high, but $10 does sound good,” Taco Bell worker Davita Haynes said.
Haynes commented that it was difficult to make ends meet at her current pay rate of $8.50 an hour.
"$15, like kind of high, I mean I just think that's high for a restaurant, maybe a manager or something but an employee? Maybe $10, that sounds about right,” Sonic worker William Haynes said.
A $10 minimum wage is supported by President Barack Obama, but not these rally supporters, who insisted that $15 should be the target for the workforce.
Protestors like Roberts are convinced billion dollar corporations will profit just fine by sharing more of their profits.
In a statement McDonald's stated:
"We offer employees advancement opportunities, competitive pay and benefits... to right-size the headlines, however, the events taking place are not strikes. Outside groups are traveling to
McDonald's and other outlets to stage rallies."
Rally supporters say there are roughly 26,000 fast food workers in Kansas City, making an average of $8.60 an hour. Their average age is almost 30 and many of them hope public pressure will convince corporations to do what congress hasn't and raise their pay.