Local fast food workers strike for $15 an hour

By WEEK Producer

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August 29, 2013 Updated Aug 30, 2013 at 9:05 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- On the eve of Labor Day weekend, thousands of fast food workers in more than 50 cities walked off the job to protest low pay. That includes workers here in Peoria and Bloomington.

About 40 employees from McDonalds, Dunkin' Donuts and KFC demonstrated Thursday morning along Western Avenue.

Workers making at or slightly above minimum wage say they want a wage increase to $15 an hour. That is almost double Illinois' minimum of $8.25.

"I just feel like all my co-workers, we work too hard to get paid minimum wage," said McDonalds employee Brittany Green.

"I'm just living paycheck to paycheck," said KFC employee Brandn Clark. "I get a check on Friday, it's probably gone by Sunday."

Workers also want to unionize.

"It's more than just about the salary, it's also about dignity and respect, it's about fair treatment on the job," said Deana Rutherford, a communications coordinator for the 'Fight for $15' group.

Financial Advisor Joe Stowell said that $15 dollars an hour still barely keeps up with inflation since the original minimum wage was put into place. He said he believes that costs may raise initially, but benefits of economic stimulation would far out weigh those costs.

The topic has people talking and taking sides.

"Well the market place determines how much you get so if there is a demand for workers for $15 then yeah," said Darren Davis of Peoria.

"I personally think it's stupid. McDonalds and restaurant stuff is supposed to be a starting point, it's not supposed to be a career," said Teresa McCrimmon of Peoria.

Karen Smith of Morton works at a local medical building. She said some of the employees have schooling and others don't, but still most don't make what fast food workers are asking for.

"A lot of CNAs, nursing assistants don't make over $15 an hour," Smith said.

Several corporations like McDonalds and Burger King have come out to say it is the franchise owners that decide wages, not the company.

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