Fast-food workers protest low pay

One fast-food worker who went out on strike this morning said that he thinks the pay at a full-time job should cover basic living expenses.

His pay of $9.50 an hour at a fast-food restaurant is not enough to pay the bills, said Terrence Wise, who was participating in the fast-food workers’ strike today.

Wise works at a fast-food restaurant in Kansas City, Mo., and said today, the protests spread to a fast-food restaurant near 8th and Minnesota in Kansas City, Kan., and also to a gas station here. They are coordinated with protests in about 160 cities throughout the nation, he said.

Wise said workers want a $15 an hour wage and a union.

“We want more from these million-dollar companies we work for,” Wise said. “We want our employers to treat us with respect and pay us a living wage.”

While his pay of $9.50 an hour is more than the $7.50 an hour minimum wage, he said that it is still not enough for living expenses. He has worked at a fast-food restaurant about 10 years.

“I bring home $1,100 a month, I pay rent, $650 a month, the car is $450 a month,” he said. “I have to have insurance on that.” He’s not even including food, the gas bill, and the electric bill, he added.

“It’s not even close,” Wise said. “It’s a struggle to survive. I have to pick and choose whether to pay the gas one month or the lights the next. I shouldn’t even have to make those decisions with a full-time job.”

In the past, he has tried to work two jobs at fast-food places to support himself and his family, which includes three children, he said. But he found that being away from the family so much, leaving at 6 a.m. and getting home at 2 a.m., was damaging to his family life, he said.

The fast-food protests have been going on for about two years, and about 30 places went out when it started in the Kansas City area, he said. Today, workers at more than 70 different stores, including a few in Kansas City, Kan., have gone out on strike, he said.

Besides fast-food restaurants here, the protesters in the Greater Kansas City area were from gas stations, dollar stores and some home health care workers.

According to a spokesman for the protesting groups, fast-food workers are fighting for $15 an hour and union rights to organize in 160 cities throughout the nation today.

The protests were peaceful in Kansas City, Kan., and there were no incidents here, according to police.

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