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Phila. Workers Call For Higher Minimum Wage, Promise Ongoing Activism

(Taylor McLoon, a fast-food worker in New Zealand, in red shirt, tells a Philadelphia rally that the minimum wage in her home country is a respectable $14.25 per hour.  Photo by Cherri Gregg)

(Taylor McLoon, a fast-food worker in New Zealand, in red shirt, tells a Philadelphia rally that the minimum wage in her home country is a respectable $14.25 per hour. Photo by Cherri Gregg)

Gregg_Cherrie--NEW Cherri Gregg
Cherri Gregg is the community affairs reporter for KYW Newsr...
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By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Scores of fast-food and other low-wage workers rallied today in center city Philadelphia to demand that Pennsylvania lawmakers raise the minimum wage statewide to $10.10 an hour.

The rally was one of nine across the state.  Those in attendance say they want change, and they want it now.

“When you speak out, you can bring a community that’s going through the same problems to fight with you,” said 19-year-old Justice Wallace, who works at a Subway store, making $7.25 an hour. She lives paycheck to paycheck, she says, but plans to join the strike at Broad and Girard, 8am on May 15th, part of a planned worldwide event.

“McDonald’s, Subway, KFC, Popeye’s — if you work in fast food, that’s the time to come out,” she told today’s rally.

A McDonald’s worker from New Zealand was there to show support.  Taylor McLoon (holding microphone in photo) says they make $14.25 an hour there — a livable minimum wage.

“We have a union for fast food workers,” she notes. “It’s easy for the corporation to say no to one worker, or to one nation, but we are coming together and they can’t say no to the world. Going on strike is the only thing that will make these corporations take us seriously.”

Airport worker Sarina Santos praised Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter for his recent executive order raising the minimum wage for most city workers to $12 (see related story).   But, she said, she and fellow protesters want voters to take action at the ballot box on May 20th.

“Vote for the first ballot question: vote ‘yes’ on (question number) one, to raise the minimum wage,” she said.

The “Raise the Wage Pa.” coalition is hoping voters will approve a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage of city subcontractors.  The group is planning more protests and rallies as momentum builds across the state.  Opponents say wage increases could hurt business and mean fewer jobs.

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