You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Fast-food workers protest low wages


Fast-food workers and labor organizers on Thursday rallied in protest over low wages, with actions taking place in 100 cities including Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus.

The actions began about a year ago and are spearheaded by the Service Employees International Union, which has spent millions to bankroll local worker groups and organize publicity for the demonstrations. At a time when there’s growing national and international attention on economic disparities, advocacy groups and Democrats are also hoping to build public support to raise the federal minimum wage of $7.25. That comes to about $15,000 a year for full-time work.

Proposals are to hike the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Protesters are calling for pay of $15 an hour, but the figure is seen more as a rallying point than a near-term possibility.

Ohio’s minimum wage, pegged to inflation, increases on Jan. 1 to $7.95 per hour for non-tipped employees and to $3.98 per hour for tipped employees. The current pay level is $7.85 or $3.93 per hour, according to the state commerce department.

Strikes were held at fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, and KFC.

About 30 Cincinnati area protesters gathered during the lunch hour Thursday at a corporate-owned Wendy’s at 5330 Ridge Avenue. Those involved in organizing the local event were liberal group ProgressOhio, the Cincinnati Interfaith Committee, Service Employees International Union and the group Fight for a Fair Economy.

“The wages have not kept up… with profits of these companies,” said David Little, spokesman for ProgressOhio in Cincinnati.

“If you do not have a living wage, you end up on food stamps, you have to go to Medicaid for your health care,” Little said. “Why are all these people who are working 40 hours a week in some cases, why are they below the poverty level and why are they being assisted by the government and taxpayers when these companies are taking the profits?”

Thursday’s events followed protests held in November at Walmart stores ahead of Black Friday, including stores in Butler Twp. and Evendale. Union members, supporters and workers that protested at the Walmarts said employees were being retaliated against for speaking out against working conditions. Workers also demanded more full-time employees making more than $25,000 a year.

In response to the fast-food industry rallies, the National Restaurant Association, an industry lobbying group, said most of those protesting were union workers and that “relatively few” workers have participated in past actions. It called the demonstrations a “campaign engineered by national labor groups.”

The Ohio Restaurant Association called the attacks unfair.

“We welcome a debate on fair wages, but it needs to be fact-based and reflect that the majority of U.S. workers who earn the minimum wage are not employed in the restaurant industry,” said Geoff Hetrick, Ohio Restaurant Association president and chief executive, in a statement. “In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 5 percent of restaurant employees earn the minimum wage and those who do are predominantly working part-time jobs and nearly half are teenagers.”

McDonald’s said in a statement that it’s “committed to providing our employees with opportunities to succeed.” The company, based in Oak Brook, Ill., said it offers employees advancement opportunities, competitive pay and benefits.

Dublin, Ohio-based restaurant chain Wendy’s said in a written statement it “is proud that we can help people who want to work. We give thousands of people who apply for an entry-level job the opportunity to learn important business and personal skills so they can either grow with us… or move on to another career.”

In the meantime, the protests are getting some high-powered support from the White House. In an economic policy speech Wednesday, President Barack Obama specifically mentioned fast-food and retail workers “who work their tails off and are still living at or barely above poverty” in his call for raising the federal minimum wage.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez also offered words of support for the protesters on the agency’s blog.

“We see momentum gathering and a consensus emerging around the idea that we need to increase the federal minimum wage, to give these workers and millions like them a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work,” Perez said in the statement.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has promised a vote on the wage hike by the end of the year. But the measure is not expected to gain traction in the House, where Republican leaders oppose it.

Staff Writer Chelsey Levingston and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in News

Police: South Florida man drops baby to join in fight
Police: South Florida man drops baby to join in fight

Two South Florida residents are facing charges after they were accused of attacking a woman while a 5-month-old child under their care lay bleeding on the ground. One of the suspects dropped a car seat — with the baby still in it — to join the altercation, police said. >> Read more trending news Riviera Beach Police arrested Naura...
Florida woman tells trooper: ‘I want to kiss you’
Florida woman tells trooper: ‘I want to kiss you’

A former Florida middle school teacher who faces several charges after police say she drove drunk and caused a crash put on quite a performance for a state trooper. >> Read more trending news Saryna Parker, 43, is shown telling the trooper, “I want to kiss you,” in Florida Highway Patrol dashcam video obtained by WTVJ. &ldquo...
Doritos sends dates to prom in helicopters
Doritos sends dates to prom in helicopters

Four teens got the chauffeured experience of a lifetime when they were taken to their prom by helicopter. Shaedon Wedel asked his friend Carson Wittmann’s sister, Carli, who has Down syndrome, to prom. He wore a custom Doritos T-shirt and tweets of the video plea to his prospective prom date caught the attention of the chip maker last month....
Protests, pride on display for Confederate Memorial Day
Protests, pride on display for Confederate Memorial Day

State offices will be closed Monday in Alabama and Mississippi -- the only two states that honor Confederate Memorial Day. The day observes those who died fighting for the South during the Civil War after those states seceded from the U.S. Opponents are against it because they say it honors those who fought to maintain slavery. Supporters say the holiday...
Student dies in hammer throw accident at college track-and-field event 
Student dies in hammer throw accident at college track-and-field event 

A freshman at Wheaton College died after being accidentally hit during the hammer throw while volunteering at a track-and-field event Saturday. Ethan Roser, 19, was struck about 4:15 p.m. during the hammer throw event, in which competitors throw a weighted, tethered iron ball, at Chicago-area college the school said in a statement. Roser was rushed...
More Stories