EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSProtest Over Fast-Food Worker Wages Staged In Charleston
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Jeff Morris
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Also Contributing: Stefano DiPietrantonio, Associated Press
Reported: Dec. 3, 2013 4:25 PM EST
Updated: Dec. 5, 2013 9:03 PM EST
Toting signs and even singing rewritten lyrics to a Christmas tune, several dozen protesters gathered outside the East End McDonald's on Thursday to protest low wages for fast-food workers.
The protesters were representatives of West Virginia Citizen Action Group and the Service Employees International Union Local 1199. Protesters gathered in Charleston on the same day fast-food workers in about 100 cities were scheduled to walk off the job in a push for higher pay. They want to see the federal minimum wage boosted from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour.
"We are underpaying the people who are serving our food," Brooke Drake of the West Virginia Citizen Action Group said. "That is something we have to ask ourselves. Are we willing to do that to our community?"
McDonald's released a corporate statement about the protests.
"McDonald's and our owner-operators are committed to providing our employees with opportunities to succeed," the company said. "We offer employees advancement opportunities, competitive pay and benefits. And we invest in training and professional development that helps them learn practical and transferable business skills.
"We also respect the right to voice an opinion. 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. Our restaurants remain open today, and every day, thanks to our dedicated employees serving our customers."
Meanwhile, back in Charleston, protesters lifted their voices to sing the rewritten lyrics to the song "Deck the Halls":
"Deck the halls with higher wages,
Raise the minimum in stages,
Index pay hikes to inflation,
Workers need fair compensation.
Higher pay for low-wage labor
Is the way to aid our neighbors
Mickey D will you be willin'?
Help your workers feed their children.
Wages less than nine an hour
Gives too little buying power
Put it on your year-end wish list
Win a wage hike by next Christmas."
Fast-food workers in about 100 cities will walk off the job this Thursday, organizers say, which would mark the largest effort yet in a push for higher pay.
The actions would build on a campaign that began about a year ago to call attention to the difficulties of living on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
Protesters are calling for pay of $15 an hour, although many see the figure as a rallying point rather than a near-term possibility.
It's not clear what the actual turnout will be, or whether the walkouts will be enough to disrupt restaurant operations. Similar actions this summer had varying results, with some restaurants briefly unable to serve customers and others seemingly unaffected.
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