Hundreds of fast food restaurant workers hit the streets of New York City Thursday, calling for better wages and the right to unionize. NY1's Vivian Lee filed the following report.
Fast food workers chanted Thursday that $7.25 an hour is not a living wage, at least not in New York.
They gathered in front of a busy Wendy's on 34th Street in Midtown, one of 60 protests by 400 workers at various fast food joints in the city.
They want $15 an hour from their employers, including McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King.
Organized by workers' rights activists, they called on the $200 billion fast food industry, one of the steadier job sectors in the country, to share the wealth.
"It significantly sends the message that the bigger that they're getting, that they need to sit down and listen to these workers and the issues that they have," said Camille Rivera of United New York.
The day started with a 6 a.m. protest outside McDonald's on Broadway and 51st Street.
A unionized construction worker who gets breakfast there every day was sympathetic.
"I think they should get more than minimum wage," the construction worker said.
"Once you hit rock bottom, it's like there's no way anybody can pressure you not take a stand for yourself," said one person.
In response, the New York Owners and Operators Association for McDonald's released a statement saying they value their workers and pay them competitive wages and benefits.
Linda Archer of the Bronx said she started at $7.25 an hour at a Manhattan McDonald's three years ago and has no health plan through the company. Now, she makes $8.05 an hour, a wage she thinks is hardly competitive.
"I have a friend now who has just left the job on Tuesday who told me that she's going to Starbucks," Archer said. "They have a union, and they're paying a little more money."
The day of protest also coincides with the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. He had arrived in Memphis, Tennessee in April of 1968 to support sanitation workers who were also rallying for more rights.