Fast food workers leave the cooking line for the picket line

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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.

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  • TA B

    What a load of bogus bs! This whole thing is staged by SEIU and ex-ACORN (people who where caught in a sting to use taxpayer funds for under age prostitutes)….The civil disobedience socialist trick is old hat.

  • MKAhlsen

    $15/hr. should be reserved for people who have a degree, vocational certification or have worked their way up a company over many, many years. However, a GOOD employee who has been with a company for a couple of years (or more sometimes) should not be making minimum wage or pennies over it. A lot of those people do not have the opportunity to go to college, for example, to better themselves because they must work 2 or sometimes 3 minimum wage jobs to support themselves (not including if kids are in the mix). Some people can do it but not everyone can. {Personally, I worked 2 jobs and attended college full-time my first semester in college but I was young (17) and thought my body could handle it; I was still living at home and my money was being saved for future education, transportation, etc. It took a toll on my body and I ended up getting quite ill. Once I moved out on my own, reality set in and college no longer was affordable nor did I have the time or stamina to do it. I didn’t get my 2-yr. degree until 16 years after I started.}

    • wellnessclinician

      You make some excellent points and I am happy you were eventually able to complete your degree but I must point out that many people working low paying food service jobs to support a family could have made better choices to obtain skills and better paying jobs BEFORE starting a family; I empathize with those people that have skills but can not find more suitable work for a variety of reasons through no fault of their own however this is the exception rather than the rule and noone can expect skilled pay for an unskilled job.

  • Tom Paine

    I was working part time in a nursing home laundry while I was going to college to get my engineering degree. Nothing like starting at the “bottom of the dirty clothes barrel” to motivate a person to work hard in school to get a skill set that is actually worth paying a so-called “living wage”. Most income inequality comes from work-ethic inequality, and lack of motivation to obtain the skills that are worth a higher wage. (At least in a growing economy with a non-socialist leader)

    • Matt Smith

      I support the fast food workers! As Rev. Martin L King said best – it’s a “crime” that people working full time jobs are forced by their employers to live in poverty, on “starvation wages.”

      The minimum wage has fallen so low today that it’s actually lower-adjusted for inflation – than it was over 40 years ago, in 1968! If it even kept up with just inflation, the wage today would be around $10.25.

      I’m shocked and disappointed to see so many people here making disparaging comments about fast food workers. Everyone desires to get an education and a cushy, salaried position -but lets face reality folks – *somebody* has got to make your food for you, pick up your trash, etc.

      We have bankers and corporations raking in billions of money from bailouts and federal tax subsidies- it’s time to stop fighting amongst ourselves for the crumbs- and start demanding a fair share of the pie.

  • wellnessclinician

    If you want to earn more money get some skills, apply yourself rather than just putting in your time and drawing a paycheck; feel fortunate that you have a job because there are others that would LOVE to have your $7.25 an hour….
    The franchisee is not the bad guy… he/she is providing jobs; some work 60-80 hours a week and make less than they pay their shift managers and may be going bankrupt especially in this economy; if you think otherwise you obviously have NO business sense. WAKE UP people

  • OpenmindedGuy

    so does this mean we will get better cooked foods like the commercials? Employee’s who will actually take the job serious? If this happens you can ensure that the company will increase the price on the foods to compensate for the higher wages.

  • Terry Herrin


  • Hanner

    I have a bachelors degree and got a job right out of college at $10/hour and they want $15/hour??? Half the time my order is wrong!! Why don’t you work hard to get more money or go get 2nd job, even better yet, go to college or trade school and learn the skills to better yourself. If ya’ll get $15/hour, I’m switching careers.

  • Josephine

    This is insane. I have a degree and graduates with honors. Right out of college I couldn’t find a job for $13, much less $15.
    If they start paying McDonalds and burger king workers $15 I might have to leave my skilled job for that… Less work, less stress, less thinking… Same pay as I get now.
    Sorry, but this is way way too high for the economy today. At least be realistic in your request. As for starting wage of $9 or $10 an hour.

    • Steven

      I agree, I’m 15 years into a engineering technician career. I spend 6 years in the airforce working in a high tech discipline, after that I attended collage and got my degree on the USGI bill. I’ve worked at the same company for 6 years supporting and maintaining surveillance equiptment. I make $15 a hour, should I quit my job and start flipping burgers for the same amount and less stress?