CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO says the minimum wage should be raised after fast-food workers in 50 cities staged walkouts Thursday.
“There are a lot of families that are working two or three jobs, they’re working minimum wage jobs and they’re not able to afford to make a living,” said Kenny Perdue.
Workers with McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC planned a day-long walkout Thursday as part of their call for raising the minimum pay to $15 per hour. In some cases, workers are seeking the ability to form unions without retaliation.
Officials with the Service Employees International Union organized the protests. Some retail workers also joined the cause, which Perdue said was justified.
“I am in support of what SEIU is doing and there’s other issues out there with the minimum wage that I think we should be talking about,” he said on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Analysts estimated the median pay for fast-food workers across the country is slightly more than $9 an hour or roughly $18,500 a year. The U.S. Census Bureau has set the poverty level at $23,000 annually for a family of four.
The minimum wage in West Virginia is $7.25 an hour.
Perdue said the cost of everything is always rising, though. “Those little things like that continually raise the income needed for people, the younger people, the people that are working two or three jobs, for them to make a living,” he said.
The minimum wage was last raised in 2009. President Barack Obama has proposed increasing that minimum wage to $9 an hour.
Organizers of Thursday’s protests in 50 cities claimed it was the largest strike to ever hit the $200 billion fast food industry.