CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Thousands of fast food workers across the United States are uniting to continue the call for a higher minimum wage and the ability to unionize.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour or about $15,000 a year for full-time work.  On Thursday, those workers and labor organizers took to the streets in 100 cities.

“Right now, the minimum wage workers earn less than $300 a week.  No matter where you live, that’s just not enough money to make ends meet,” said Ted Boettner, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.

In New York City, workers want a $15 hourly rate.

In West Virginia, Boettner said an $8 an hour to $9 an hour minimum wage would make sense.

“This is about people who show up everyday and work hard so their company can make a profit.  At the very least, they deserve to be able to pay their bills,” he said on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

He estimated 90 percent of West Virginians currently making minimum wage are over the age of 20.

“Raising the minimum wage puts money in the pockets of hard-working West Virginians who will spend it on the things they need.  This will not only generate more business for our economy and ease the load on taxpayers, it will help businesses retain their employees,” said Boettner.

At least one location in Kanawha County, in Charleston, was part of Thursday’s national effort.  Workers in Pittsburgh, Pa. were also involved.

Officials with the National Restaurant Association dismissed Thursday’s protests as “a campaign engineered by national labor groups.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has promised a vote in the U.S. Senate on an increase to the minimum wage, possibly taking it to $10.10, before the end of the year.  Republicans leaders in the U.S. House oppose it.

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Comments

  • Stephen R.

    Food costs have raised. Gas prices have raised. Housing costs have raised. Car prices have raised. Clothing costs have raised.

    Raise the minimum wage.

  • Joe

    Jason412:

    Why do you think your $1.05 Junior Bacon Cheeseburger wnet to a $1.90. You can thank the present administrations intrusion into the free market. The mandatory ehtanol for gasoline drove the price of cereal grains up, this raise the price of feed stock for cattle. Bread, beef and other food prices have sky rocketed.

    When you raise the wage artifically by government mandate, the workers will end up no better of economically after the price adjustments and fewer jobs, as non essentials will be laid off.

    It is a feel good jesture for an administration will historically low approval and unions wanting to increase membership; however, in reality it will offer very little benfit to the workers after the dust settles.

    The government benefits subsidize this economic model. Rather than wages the government taxes and distributes benefits for votes. If the Government didn't subsidize these wages how long do you think people would work. The Government has created this situation and now wants to blame the private sector.

    Since the unions are so concerned, they have their pension plans who along with other pension plans and 401(k)s own the vast majoirity of stock today can vote to reduce dividends and profits to pay the workers more.

    Hold your breath until the unions step up and do this.

  • State Employee

    You say minimum wage workers make around $300 every week. I work for the WVDOH and make just over $600 every two weeks. What does that tell you!

  • Algore

    Got this off from a comment on another min wage article on this site:

    John of Wayne

    The very purpose of business is not to create jobs but to create profit for their investors. Jobs are a by-product of business. The labor force is supply and demand. McDonald's type jobs are suitable employment for school kids and those with few skills, those who dropped out of school, those who ruined their work records by tardiness/absenteeism, those who cannot land a higher paying job due to their recreational drug habits, etc. Those who want more money MUST make themselves more marketable by realizing what the marketplace wants in an employee and by investing in themselves through education. It's proven to work.

  • Hillbilly

    Order a bacon cheeseburger, medium fries, and a large Coke and I guarantee there will be at least one thing with what you get..
    I know, this is not quite the same subject, but neither is this skilled labor..

  • N8QQD

    To go from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour is an increase of approximately 107%. Businesses would either cut employee numbers or increase prices to cover the cost.

    A balanced approach would be to increase profits and reduce workforce equally to offset the increase. This would only happen in a perfect world.

    Depending on the type of business, the only feasible solution would be to cut workers.

    Another drawback, by increasing the wage to $15 would reduce the number of individuals eligible to receive help with coverage under the ACA.

    • Jason412

      $15 an hour was suggested ONLY for New York City, where the cost of living is insane.

      What people fail to realize is it cost considerably more to live in California then it does to live in West Virginia. The last time I browsed apartment rentals a while back a 1 bedroom apartment here in WV is maybe $450 a month, in California you couldnt live in the ghetto's of LA for $450 a month. The same apartment in the same type of neighborhood that costs $450 here is $900+ in California.

      People will say "they should move if its to much" but the fact is where decent jobs are available the cost of living is considerably more. So the guy in WV working at McDonalds is making 15k a year is paying $5400 a year to live in his 1BR while the guy in Cali is making 15k a year and is paying almost 11 grand to rent a 1BR.


      In Steubenville Ohio a mere 40 miles from Pittsburgh a 1BR apt is at least $200 less a month then a 1BR in a bad part of Pitt. But min wage workers in both cities make the same salary.

  • Thomas

    If the cost of labor is artificially raised, get used to ordering food on touch screens. It is very simple, if labor costs more then technology there will be less labor and more technology. How hard would it be to automate most of the work done in a fast food restaurant? How much would automation cost vs. how much would a higher minimum wage cost? What will be the job loss if we legislate higher wages? Beyond that, what about causing more jobs to head overseas?

    Maybe we should discuss these questions instead of stuff like "how can anyone oppose a living wage?"

    • Stephen R.

      If there can be touch screens, there will be touch screens. Businesses are in it for the money. Minimum wage will not change that one way or another.

      • Ric

        At "Royal Farms" convenience stores in VA (and I'm sure plenty of other businesses in plenty of other locations), food is ordered on a touch screen. It is as fast, or faster, than ordering from a person. A couple of people work in the prep area putting the orders together. It is a very quick and efficient operation. Raise the minimum wage, and jobs will go away.

  • Algore

    The Republicans oppose min wage hikes because they feel it is up to the business to set wages. They want less government intrusion, not more.

    Secondly, small businesses are hurt when min wage is raised. That comes directly out of the owner's pocket.

    Thirdly, do you think companies are just going to raise min wage without raising prices to cover it? And when min wages go up, workers comp goes up. Unemployment taxes go up. Social Security goes up. It's a lot harder on small employers than you think. To compensate, they raise prices. Prices go up, their business goes down. People get laid off or business close. Just waving a magic wand and raising min wage isn't the answer everyone thinks it is.

    Lastly, if you don't like making $7 or $8 an hour, go do something about it. Look, I agree that huge corporations like McDonald's should pay more. I don't know how those CEO's sleep at night. That being said, If you don't like working for them for what they want to pay you, then go somewhere else. Get an education. Stop sticking out your hand and expecting the govt. or someone else to give you something.

    That's what is wrong with this country. Too many people thinking they are entitled to something. And sitting on their butts whinng about it.

    • bulldog95

      Everything you said is great until you get to the part about McDonalds being able to pay more. McDonalds is a name, a large portion of the stores are not owned and ran by McDonalds. Its mom and pop owned that pays McDonalds to use the name and product. See my post below.

      • Algore

        I agree, bulldog. That part escaped me. Thanks for pointing that out.

    • justin

      repubs only care about themselves and no one else

      • Nobama

        Because republicans have learned to make it on their own and not ask for handouts.

        • GregG

          Oh, so tax breaks, tax loopholes, government subsidies, laws that favor business etc......are not considered "handouts" in the minds of republicans.

          • Myron

            GOP refers to these as "incentives"!

        • justin

          im democrat and have learned to make it on my own. i dont need any handouts.. if our country didnt offer benefits for the poor then do you think it would be safe to live in our country? think outside the box and about other people for once in your life

    • Jason412

      The price of everything has ALREADY been drastically increased over the last 4 years. And certainly over the last 15 years.

      In 1997 the minimum wage was $5.15, gas was on average $1.40 a gallon.

      In 2013 minimum wage is $7.25, and gas is around $4 a gallon.

      So while the price of gas has increased $3 per gallon the minimum wage has increased barely over $2. Thats a 185% increase in gas prices in the same time min wage increased only 40%

    • stophating

      Yeah, entitlement mentality---how dare people think if they work full time that it should be enough to have shelter better than a cardboard box, and at least two servings of ramen noodles per day.

    • Ric

      I would guess that most of the minimum wage workers are not living only on those wages. They likely receive various forms of Gov't assistance.

  • bulldog95

    A forced increase in pay will result in either a higher price in goods or a reduction in staff. Anyone that thinks that the local fastfood is cooprate owned and ran is probably wrong. Its run by someone who wanted to run a business and is paying McDonalds to use the name, the product, the equipment. That person has to buy fries, the burgers, the buns, the cups, the happy meal boxes from McDonalds.

    While McDonalds makes "tons" of cash a year, its because they are allowing franchise stores to operate. McDonalds is making the money off those franchise stores, leaving the local mom and pop McDonalds making no where near the millons people think they are making. Its hard to narrow down how much each of these franchise stores make, depending on location they could be making around 50,000 a year.

    If anything this is like a pay cut to someone making 12.00 an hour. Its a paycut because everything just got more expensive because business had to raise the price because they were forced to pay a higher min wage. So congrats, you just added more people to the poverty level.

    • JJ

      Well said. This is what you can't make these people understand. Truly willful idiots.

    • GregG

      Well you have to be a millionaire to even open a McDonalds so bulldog I guess in a round about way your saying that a Billionaire Company like McDonalds is actually taking advantage of the poor little millionaires that operate a McDonalds franchise. What a shame, the richer taking advantage of the rich. As I have said before, greed knows no bounds. I hope McDonalds doesn't charge me for using their ad campaign slogan, but............I'm Lovin' it!!!!

      • Ric

        Where are the figures that prove that 'you have to be a millionaire to open a McDonalds"?

  • JTC

    The gap between rich and poor continues to grow, it is beyond reasoning why the GOP will not consent to ANY raise in the minimum wage. If they EVER expect to win another presidential race they must change their ways. $10 per hour SHOULD be today's rate.

    • Ric

      Here we go...you against me, us against them, rich against the poor, etc. Keep everyone riled up and divided and maybe they won't notice the failings of the administration....

  • What happened to WV?

    There is a huge lack of knowledge in this area from the general public and from Ted Boettner and Harry Reid. If they raise minimum wage as they did last time, gas, milk, and fast food prices will all be raised as well. The prices will have to increase to keep business profitable. One of the main areas that people don't understand is that restaurants have a low profit margin of pennies on the dollar.

    • GregG

      Low profit margin?! Really? That's funny, if these restaurants aren't profitable then why are there so many restaurants? I'm going o go out on a limb and say that there are more restaurant in this state than any other type of business. If someone has the #'s I sure would love to see them.

  • JJ

    I want to make $100 an hour, no $1,000, no a bazillion-kazillion dollars.

    That's pretty much what this is.

    Unskilled and primarily unmotivated labor demanding a ludicrous pay increase that would cripple the economy and is frankly, a slap in the face to highly educated and motivated indivduals like myself who don't make appreciably more than the $15. Who is going to pay for this? With what money?

    So am I going to get a requisite raise to compensate for this? Perhaps instead of getting my Masters and competing in the work force for a secure and decent paying job I should have just got a GED and flipped burgers and taken it easy and still lived just fine.

    I have no issue with a very modest increase in the minimum wage, but 10 or 15 dollars an hour, just like that? Insanity!

    Take from those who have, and give to those that won't. Redistribution of wealth, plain and simple.

    • Jason412

      If you're not making "appreciably more" then $15 an hour with a Master's Degree that is no ones fault but your own. I know a UPS driver with a diploma that makes $31 an hour, that's over 4 times the minimum wage for a job that could also be classified as "unskilled labor". If UPS can afford to pay 4 times the minimum wage I find it hard to believe other companies couldnt manage $10.

      In 2009 the price of a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger from Wendy's was $1.05, the minimum wage was $7.25 after being increased from $6.55. In 2013, that very same Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger is $1.90(or around there I havent ate fast food in a few months)

      That's just an example. Im not even going to get into the increases in groceries, rent, and everything else.

  • Lisa

    I wonder how many of these folks are also getting some type of publice assistance to help make ends meet? Makes sense that raising wages for them would remove some of the burden on the welfare system...?

    • Stephen R.

      A BUNCH are getting subsidized by the government so their CEO's can make millions if not billions.

    • Michael

      Kudo's Lisa The best comment yet on this board.

    • GregG

      There is the problem Lisa, the republicans don't want the working class to make a living wage nor do they want them to receive any "handouts" as they refer to them. See a pattern? They are Kings and the working class are the peasants in their minds.

  • Jason412

    Can one of the many Republican's here tell me why this is being opposed. When cost of living increases as drastically as it has minimum wage should also increase. I read somewhere recently in the late 1960's minimum wage was $1.60 equivelanf to $10+ in 2013 dollars but I cant seem to find the link so take it for what you will.

    • Joe

      Jason....I just went to usinflationcalculator.com and plugged in 1.61. It actually calculated out to 12.58 in 2013 dollars.

  • Gilbert Gnarley

    No one should begrudge employees being paid a liveable wage. This should not be a partisan issue.

    • AJ

      If the GOP had their way these Fast Food Workers would be making $2.00 hr living in alleys next door. They are the Repressive Party at this time. The minimum wage should be at MINIMUM $10.00/hr. And if Washington won't do it (and they won't for another year when the GOP gets voted out) the respective states will.

    • RogerD

      So is $8-9 and hour a "livable wage"? How is that determined exactly?

      • Jason412

        I think because full time at $7.25 an hour leaves you below the federal poverty line, $8 or $9 would put you above it I think.