Watch: Fast food strikers in Denver

Fast food workers in Colorado joined strikers across the nation today to demand a hike in the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour and the right to unionize.

They shared the experience of feeling trapped in low-wage positions where the pay never comes close to matching the cost of living and where they struggle to feed themselves, pay for housing and healthcare costs and buy the basics for their kids.

“I know people who have to bunk with six or seven other people just to make [rent],” said Andrew Olson, who works at McDonald’s. “It’s not fair… we all struggle and some of us just don’t have the choice to get out.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010, 16- to 19-year-olds made up 17 percent of fast food workers. That figure was 25 percent in 2000. Now the vast majority of fast food workers are adults.

“The sheer number of adults in the industry has just exploded,” Saru Jayaraman, director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California at Berkeley, told Bloomberg News.

Social media buzzed with dispatches from the strikes today. One of the tidbits shared often was the fact that the CEO of McDonald’s, Don Thompson, makes $9,200 an hour.

As Bloomberg put it when profiling a McDonald’s employee for a story titled “McDonald’s $8.25 Man and $8.75 Million CEO…,” it would take Tyree Johnson, 44, who made $8.25 an hour, “about a million hours of work — or more than a century on the clock — to earn the $8.75 million that McDonald’s paid then-CEO Jim Skinner just last year.”

By Nate Koch and John Tomasic.

1 COMMENT

  1. Fast food jobs have always been entry-level positions. Unionizing, and raising the minimum wage is not the answer, and does not make economic sense. The solution is to get education or training to move up the employment ladder. Want a better wage? Earn it by becoming a valuable employee in a position that pays well.

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