Local News

Fast food workers rally for higher pay, union rights

Posted September 4, 2014 6:09 a.m. EDT
Updated September 4, 2014 9:36 a.m. EDT

— Fast-food workers in parts of the Triangle walked off their jobs Thursday morning as part of the latest national protest to push companies to pay their employees at least $15 an hour.

Workers in Raleigh rallied at a Bojangles on South Wilmington Street at 8:30 a.m. to demand higher pay and union rights. Nationally, workers in about 150 cities are expected to walk off their jobs.

North Carolina's minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour, even with the federal minimum wage. A person making working 40 hours per week on minimum wage can expect to earn about $15,000 a year.

Fast-food industry officials say a $15-an-hour wage would hurt jobs, and they've said that the solution for workers is more education and job training.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have minimum wage rates higher than the federal standard, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. Nineteen states, including North Carolina, have a minimum wage rate equal to the federal rate. Three states, including Georgia, have rates lower than the minimum wage.

The "Fight for $15" campaign, which is backed financially by the Service Employees International Union and others, has gained national attention at a time when the wage gap between the poor and the rich has become a hot political issue.

President Barack Obama mentioned the campaign at a Labor Day appearance in Milwaukee.

"There's a national movement going on made up of fast food workers organizing to lift wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity," Obama said, as he pushed Congress to raise the minimum wage. "If I were busting my butt in the service industry and wanted an honest day's pay for an honest day's work, I'd join a union," he added.