Fast food workers strike in several cities

More than 20 workers walking off the job at the McDonald's at 341 5th Ave. in New York City (FastFoodForward.org / July 29, 2013)

Hundreds of fast food workers around the country are walking off their jobs Monday to raise support for $15-an-hour pay.

Advocacy groups such as Fast Food Forward organized strikes in New York City, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Mo., and Flint, Mich., to protest the $7.25 federal minimum wage.

Demonstrators, coming from jobs in mega-chains such as McDonald’s and KFC, are also seeking the right to form unions without retaliation.

Strikes from industry workers have intensified in recent months.

Quick service employees in New York earn only a quarter of the money they need for survival, according to Fast Food Forward.

The Economic Policy Institute, which is known for its liberal bent, said last month that chief executives at the nation’s top restaurant companies earn more in one morning than the average minimum-wage worker in their eateries makes all year.

Head honchos get $11.9 million a year on average, including options, while full-time employees earn $15,080, according to the group.

Quiz: How well do you know fast food?

A separate report in July from the National Employment Law Project, which backs low-wage workers, showed few fast food workers rising into the ranks of upper management.

But in reaction to Monday’s walkouts, the right-leaning Employment Policies Institute said that a $15 minimum wage threshold would actually pose a hardship for employees, especially in the low-margin restaurant industry.

Tight-pressed eateries forced to pay higher salaries would likely start shifting from human labor to automated technology such as touch-screen ordering or payment devices, according to the group.

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