By Dan Heyman, WVNS
Some fast-food workers across the country walked off their jobs Thursday to demand higher wages.
The national one-day strike involved workers in more than 100 cities.
Deivid Rojas, a communications director at a Workers Organizing Committee of Fight for 15, says these workers share the struggle of earning a wage that keeps them in poverty, while working for multi-billion-dollar corporations.
“A lot of them have families,” he points out. “A lot of them are mothers and fathers, and they can’t afford to maintain their families with minimum wage and no benefits. And they decided that they’ve had enough and they’re using their rights as workers to go on strike.”
The workers want to see a $15 dollar-an-hour wage. A bill now before Congress would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
Protests around the country, including in Charleston, voiced support for the higher wage.
The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour. And while some fast-food workers earn a little more than that, Rojas says it still isn’t enough to get by.
“A minimum wage of $10 or $9 is still not enough,” he says. “That means that workers are still going to be living in poverty. So, while we welcome raising the minimum wage, what the workers are fighting for is $15.”
Rojas adds the workers don’t feel they are just striking for themselves and their families, but for the health of the nation’s economy.
“When workers have more money in their pockets, that means they can contribute to the economy,” he maintains. “That means they’re not going to be on public subsidies, which means all that tax money can be used for something else – our struggling schools, to pay pensions.”
According to recent research from the University of California-Berkeley, more than half the families of front-line, fast food workers are enrolled in one or more public programs, compared with 25 percent of the workforce as a whole.