Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Protesters rally for higher wages

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Protesters rally for higher wages
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UNITED STATES -- It’s a nationwide fight. Protesters are fighting for fast food worker’s rights.

"We want $15 an hour and we want to raise the minimum wage for all workers. We will push for that until we see it,” said Mary Clark, Citizen Action Regional Director.

Ralliers say wages have been stagnant for a number of years. That's why they're demanding the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour. Some politicians agree on raising it, but haven't specified by how much.

"The minimum wage level today is lower than it was in 1969, in today’s dollars. To bring it up some makes sense to me. People who work should be able to give their families a decent life,” said Senator Charles Schumer.

In Binghamton, demonstrators rallied for better pay in front of the McDonald's on Main Street. The average pay for fast food workers across the nation is almost $9 per hour, or $18,500 per year. Protesters say it's not enough.

"The minimum wage is so low in this country that even those who work 40 hour weeks on minimum wage are still in poverty,” said Fred R. Brooks, Greater Binghamton Labor-Religion Coalition.

Among the dozens of protestors that were in Binghamton Thursday, not a single McDonald’s employee came out to rally. Organizers say that’s because they were afraid to do so and risk losing their jobs.

"The workers don't come out because they are desperate they are afraid. Management really, when they say things like we appreciate them, appreciation is not a pat on the head or on the back, it's got to result in a living wage,” said Karen Carpenter, an Albany resident.

McDonald’s says the rallies are not being held by their employees.

Lisa McComb, a spokesperson for McDonald’s USA, issued a statement to YNN saying, “McDonald’s and our owner-operators are committed to providing our employees with opportunities to succeed. 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.”

Still, some employees did issue statements for the demonstrators to read at the rally. Many say they work hard under stressful conditions and deserve a living wage.

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