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Fast Food Workers Stage Walkouts To Demand Higher Wages

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Fast food workers in New York and six other major cities have organized a one-day strike demanding a living wage and benefits.

Protesters gathered outside the McDonald's at 51st Street and Broadway in Manhattan on Monday, chanting "Hold the burgers, hold the fries, make our wages super size" and "Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Poverty wages got to go."

Workers are calling on fast food restaurants to pay $15 per hour, saying they can't survive on New York's current minimum wage which is $7.25.

Fast Food Workers Seek Higher Wages, Unions

"Every month I'm at a deficit, every paycheck I'm at a deficit," Burger King worker Tamara Green said. "I want to feel like I'm worth something. I don't feel like I have a value; we don't feel like we have a value."

"I can't support my family on $7.25, I could barely support myself on $7.25" one KFC worker said.

Fast Food Workers Seek Higher Wages, Unions

"At $7.25 and 20 hours a week that's $109, a MetroCard is $112," one Burger King worker said. "Everything I do is a step back."

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn came out in support of the workers Monday saying, "This effort is about making sure there are jobs that help people get through college, help people get on the path to be in the middle class."

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said service sector positions are a growing part of the economy, but many workers are not making enough money to live on.

"Literally, the government ends up subsidizing these workers with food stamps," Maloney said.

Workers said the fast food industry is a multibillion dollar business and their bosses can afford to pay them more.

"They're making more money than they've ever made before -- multibillion dollars in profits and the executives millions every single year," one fast-food worker told 1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg. "Workers themselves are living in poverty."

The industry says most restaurants operate on the slimmest of profit margins and the jobs can disappear, WCBS 880's Paul Murnane reported.

The walkouts are being held in New York, as well as Chicago; Detroit; Milwaukee; St. Louis; Kansas City; and Flint, Mich.

Several fast food chains are being affected by the walkout, including McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and Wendy's.

The workers are also seeking the right to form a union without retaliation from employers.

Burger King released the following statement in response to the strike:

"For decades, Burger King restaurants have provided an entry point into the workforce for millions of Americans, including many of the system's franchisees who began their careers working at local Burger King restaurants. Over 99% of all Burger King restaurants in the United States are independently owned and operated by third party franchisees.  As a corporation, we respect the rights of all workers; however, Burger King Corp. does not make hiring, firing or other employment-related decisions for our franchisees.  During this time, customer service and quality will remain a top priority in all Burger King restaurants. 

Burger King Corp. and its franchisees support and invest in the thousands of restaurant team members across the system. Burger King restaurants offer compensation and benefits that are consistent with the QSR industry.  In addition, through the Burger King McLamore Foundation , all Burger King employees and their families are eligible for college scholarships to encourage further growth and education."

Wendy's also released a statement saying:

"We're proud that Wendy's provides a place where thousands of people with different backgrounds and education levels can enter the workforce, gain life skills and advance through their own initiative and abilities."

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