N.Y. Fast-Food Workers Strike For Better Wages

Fast-food workers staged protests Thursday at restaurants in New York. The workers said their low wages need to be raised. But with the economy still slow, restaurant managers are determined to hold down labor costs so they can offer dollar foods.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In New York City, yesterday, workers at fast food restaurants across the city went on strike. They are demanding higher wages and the right to unionize

Burger King, McDonald's, other fast food chains sought protests sounding like this one.

Here's NPR's Margot Adler.

MARGOT ADLER, BYLINE: A group of demonstrators in the middle of holiday craziness right near Macy's and Penn Station.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: When you are walking in purpose you're not alone, and these workers are not alone.

ADLER: About 100 protesters stand in front of a Burger King. Raymond Lopez, works at a McDonalds nine blocks away. The minimum wage is 7.25 an hour.

RAYMOND LOPEZ: Many people who work in this industry, no matter what brand they work for, when they are making 7.25, they have to rely on food stamps and other government help.

ADLER: Lopez makes 8.75 an hour, but he's a shift manager. He does two other jobs. For most workers, wages have been stagnant for years. These fast food workers want $15 an hour.

In a Reuters' news story, a McDonald's adviser said, there goes the dollar meal.

High turnover has always made organizing fast food workers difficult. Bernard Boumohl is an economist with the Economic Outlook Group in Princeton, New Jersey. He says given the number of out of work workers...

BERNARD BOUMOHL: There is no incentive for companies to ramp up wages and until there is greater clarity on what the economic outlook is going to be, this situation will only continue.

ADLER: Still, some say this is the first wage protest by fast food workers from multiple restaurants. Of course, it's happening in a city where costs are sky high and unions are strong.

Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.

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