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Fast food workers across the city staged a walk-out yesterday. Workers from some of the biggest chains – McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC – are demanding higher wages and the right to unionize. This is the second time in the last six months workers have staged a one-day strike. Christie Thorne reports.
At 8:30 in the morning on Thursday, Cherise Rodriguez was supposed to be behind the counter of a Burger King at 116th and Lexington. But instead of clocking in there, she was standing outside of a McDonald’s in Midtown. Yesterday was Rodriguez’s first protest. She says even though she was nervous, she knew it was important to join in.
I’m an overworked person and underpaid. All of us here are overworked and underpaid. And we’re out here for the struggle and we just want everybody’s support for the day. (:10)
Rodriguez is one of about 50,000 fast food workers in New York City. All of whom make minimum wage – seven dollars and twenty-five cents an hour.
Harlem Rally / We can’t survive on $7.25! (:07)
Workers want to double the wage to $15. Rodriguez is chanting at a park in Harlem with her Burger King colleague, Kasseen Silver. They’re about to take part in the final march of the day. Silver says that the city’s cost of living makes these jobs harder.
So in order for us to continue to pay our taxes, to receive medical coverage and for us to be able to take care of our family and not nickel and dime check to check…we need these things that everybody wants in this country. We’re tax-paying citizens, we do our job, we do our job well and we just want what we deserve. (:17)
And that’s just not possible on minimum wage says Jessica Cogle, who works at a Harlem McDonald’s and has a baby on the way.
With $7.25, I can’t afford nothing. Once I pay for my metro card to get to work, and eat…it’s gone! (:08)
In a statement to Uptown Radio, a McDonald’s spokeswoman called the company’s wages competitive and said that employees have access to a range of benefits to meet their individual needs. She adds that McDonald’s works hard everyday to treat employees with dignity and respect.
Workers were happy with the turnout. So was Joseph Barrera. He’s an employee at a Brooklyn Kentucky Fried Chicken and an advocate with New York Communities for Change, one of the organizers of the strike. Barrera says it stalled a Burger King from opening and shut down a Domino’s Pizza altogether.
Enough of the workers were on our side. I guess it was impossible for them to run the store because it was so understaffed. My store as well. Out of the 11 workers that work there, 6 of them are by my side. (:11)
And Barrera says there have been other gains. Just a week ago City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a bill that would give full time employees paid sick leave. And last month, New York legislature approved a budget that will bump up the city’s minimum wage to $9 an hour by 2015. Christie Thorne, Columbia Radio News.