FERGUSON, MO. (KPLR) - Protesters hoped it was the beginning of a fast food revolution, Monday: workers in seven cities, including, New York, Chicago, and St. Louis, planned to walk off the job this week, to demand higher pay; much higher.
One of the two so-called “strikes” in the St. Louis area was at the McDonald’s in the 9100 block of West Florissant in Ferguson, with more than 100 workers and activists.
Organizers said there would 60 or more walkouts Tuesday, just in St. Louis.
Worker Serena Williams decided to skip her shift at the McDonald’s and join the wave, whenshe saw the crowd on her way into work.
“I didn’t go in. I wanted to stand up for something right for a change,” she said.
At one point, workers sat down, blocking a vehicle exit just as the dinner rush was getting started.
They also tried to go inside but were turned away.
There was a heavy police presence, but no arrests.
Area clergy and Democratic St. Louis Congressman, Lacy Clay, joined the movement – calling for wage increases perhaps up to $15 an-hour, from the typical $7.35.
“These are jobs people aren’t just taking because they want to have a little bit more in high school or even in college. These are people who are making a living doing this,” said Rabbi Susan Talve of the Central Reform Congregation.
“Whether it goes to $15 an hour, I’m not sure. But it should be somewhere over $9 an hour,” Clay said.
He even took up the case of suspended worker, Shermale Humphrey with management at the McDonald’s.
Humphrey wasn’t sure why she was suspended, but said the suspension came after she took part in the last round of walkouts a couple of months ago.
“I support my momma, and my sisters and brother. I need my job. I need more than $7.35,” she said.
She added that after meeting with clay, managers told her she’d be scheduled to work against next week.
“These are the people that I represent. These are the people I speak for in the halls of Congress,” Clay said. “Hopefully there will be action like there was 50 years ago during the height of the civil rights movement.”
“I think as we grow the movement and let people know they deserve more and help people see that, we’re going to see that gap between the two Americas kind of coming back together,” Talve said. “This is the best thing for the economy; putting more money into the hands of people who really are going to be out there buying more food, buying more gas.”
But a spokesman for the National Restaurant Association said doubling the minimum wage, would have a significant impact on job creation, especially jobs often filled by first time workers and teens; 71% of restaurant workers making the starting wage are first time workers, 47% are teens.
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