On Thursday, cashier Karina McClain did not work on her shift at a New York City Checkers. Instead, McClain, 22, joined nearly 100 others outside of a Wendy’s restaurant in Brooklyn calling for an increase in wages to $15 per hour.
McClain said that she has bills she has to pay and is not paid enough money. She currently earns $7.25 per hour, which is the federal minimum wage and only works for 20 hours per week.
Missing a day’s income would hurt McClain, who has a hard time paying for her daughter’s diapers and clothes.
However, Thursday McClain could afford to miss her shift since organizers of the protests compensated workers who did not work.
McClain said the groups that are backed by unions such as Fight for 15 and Fast Food Forward, were giving her close to $50 or the equivalent of her daily wage for her to protest.
McClain said that if the group had not paid her to be there, she would not have been able to afford to protest.
Other people at the protest along with others around the country confirmed they too were being paid amounts that were similar. Organizers said the workers such as McClain had gathered in 100 different cities on Thursday making demands that were similar.
The movement started with a small fast food employee walkout in November of 2012 in New York City. It has since increased with strikes in August that attracted workers form the fast food industry in 60 cities.
The group leading the Fast Food Forward movement is compensating the workers who did not work their shifts on Thursday so they could participate in a protest.
The money used to pay the workers is from a strike fund that has the support of foundations, grassroots organizations and labor unions.
Unions have organized similar funds for strikes for many years in order to make up for lost wages, while standing up to their employers.
The average pay for a fast food employee across the country is approximately $9 per hour or close to $18,500 annually. That amount is nearly $4,500 less than the poverty threshold level from the Census Bureau of $23,000.
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