By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An enthusiastic group of fast food workers rallied outside of a North Philadelphia McDonald’s Tuesday to show support class actions filed against the company in Michigan, California and New York. Plaintiffs in those cases claim the hamburger giant steals employee pay. The lawsuits shine the light on a much bigger issue that protesters say runs rampant within the fast food industry.
For the first time, Philadelphia area fast food workers are throwing their fists up to join in the national battle for higher wages and the right to form a union.
“I get $8 an hour,” says Justin Watson, who works at the McDonald’s at Broad and Allegheny Avenue.
“It’s not enough to pay child support…it’s barely enough to put food on the table,” he says.
Watson was one of several dozen Philadelphia area fast food workers who say they are risking their job to stand up against the fast food industry to demand $15 an hour pay.
“I’d rather accept the fact that I lost from fighting the fight, instead of losing and not fighting the fight at all,” says Watson, who claims many his co-workers are afraid to stand up.
Javier Mulet says he’s not afraid to speak out. The four-year Dunkin’ Donuts veteran makes $7.45 an hour and says he stood up against management when they demanded that employees give up their tips after their store was robbed.
“Management decided workers had to pay it out of their tip wages,” he says, “I was threatened with my job, so I told them I would pay it, but I never did.”
State Senator Daylin Leach spoke at the rally and told fast food workers to unionize and put pressure on lawmakers to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania.
“Union workers make 30 percent more than non-union workers on average,” he says, “being in a union is the difference maker.”
Pennsylvania Democrats introduced a bill last fall to raise the minimum wage to $9, but are now pushing for a minimum wage of $10.10. Philadelphia fast food workers want $15, claiming the fast food industry rakes in $200 billion a year, with some CEO’s earning more in a matter of hours than many workers earn in a year.