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Fast-Food Workers (And Others In Low-Wage Industries) Protested For $15 An Hour Minimum Wage

3,800 workers went on strike over the weekend at nine U.S. refineries after contract negotiations broke down with Shell Oil Co. (Thinkstock)
Latest protesting news. (Thinkstock)

Fast-food workers and others employed in low-wage industries were joined by union activists today for a series of protests in Los Angeles and across the country as part of a continuing campaign for a $15-an- hour minimum wage.

The local protests, organized by the Service Employees International Union, included fast-food, home-care and child-care workers, along with other “underpaid” employees, according to organizers.

Protesters began a rally about 6 a.m. outside a McDonald’s restaurant at 101 W. Manchester Ave. in South Los Angeles. Another rally was planned at 11 a.m. at a McDonald’s at 690 S. Alameda, followed by a march to Los Angeles City Hall for a midday protest. Some workers will then board buses bound for Oakland for more marches.

“Income inequality in this country keeps growing,” Gilda Valdez of SEIU told Fox11 during the first rally. “We have to start closing the gap.”

According to organizers, similar rallies were to be held across California and in other states, including Ohio, Florida and Virginia as part of a nationwide call for $15-an-hour wages and union rights. Union officials say more than 60 million Americans, including 3.2 million Californians, are paid less than $15 an hour.

The city and county of Los Angeles have both approved laws raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. The statewide minimum wage is $9 an hour but is set to increase to $10 an hour in January.

Some participants in the early-morning rally said they were demonstrating to press for $15-an-hour wages for all low-wage Californians even though they, themselves, are already scheduled to get it in Los Angeles.

Organizers behind today’s rallies are backing a proposed statewide initiative they hope to get on the November 2016 ballot that would raise the California minimum wage to $15 by 2020 and guarantee full-time workers receive at least six paid sick days per year. A separate proposed statewide initiative would raise the wage to $15 an hour by 2021.

Opponents of the wage increases, including many business groups, have argued that the raises will force companies to lay off workers or boost the prices of goods and services to meet the increased costs.

In July, McDonald’s implemented a salary policy guaranteeing that workers at company-owned restaurants are paid $1 an hour more than the prevailing minimum wage in the communities where the eateries are located. The policy also enables workers to accrue paid time off after one year of service.

Some union officials were critical of the policy, noting that it does not apply to franchise restaurants, where owners can set their own salaries. Only about 10 percent of McDonald’s restaurants are company-owned.

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