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Minimum wage protester: “Now it doesn’t sound so crazy”

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Wage protests in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Fast food workers walked off of their jobs Thursday in the continued fight for better wages.

Several protesters filled the streets near 84th and Wornall on Thursday to march, asking for $15 an hour and union rights.

One worker who works $8 an hour at Popeye’s says that hourly rate makes it hard to pay the bills.

“That would help me a whole lot. Me and my livin would never live in poverty. I’d be able to pay my bills. Pay rent on time and pay medical bills, childcare and stuff like that,”  said Laquita Thompson.

There were protests across the country on the second anniversary of the “Fight for 15 Movement”.

A lot has happened in the two years since fast-food workers first took to the streets of New York City to demand at least $15 an hour. The issue of fair worker pay is now on the public’s mind, and state and local lawmakers have begun to respond.

Dozens of states and cities have raised the minimum wage for workers in all types of industries to well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25. San Francisco and Seattle both voted to raise pay for local workers to $15 an hour. Chicago lawmakers voted on Tuesday to hike the city’s wage to $13 by 2019, while Washington D.C. has adopted a plan to raise its hourly minimum to $11.50 by 2016.

Starting next year, businesses with federal contracts will have to pay a minimum of $10.10 an hour, thanks to an executive order signed by President Obama.

“When they were planning to strike and ask for $15 an hour in 2012, people thought they were crazy,” said organizer Kendall Fells.

“Two years later, it doesn’t sound so crazy,” he said.

But none of the fast food chains, which are the actual targets of the protests, have committed to an across the board wage hike.

In 2013, the average pay for restaurant workers was $8.74 per hour.

Workers from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC, Domino’s and other chains will strike Thursday, with some of the biggest demonstrations planned for Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego and New York City.

This time, the fast-food workers were joined by airport workers in nine cities, as well as home health care workers. They are all asking to be paid a minimum of $15 an hour.