CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Fast food workers across the United States took to the streets on Thursday to again call–en masse–for an increase to the federal minimum wage.

Sean O’Leary, fiscal policy analyst for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, said the protests were all people who simply want livable wages.

“The real question that we should all be asking ourselves is–should someone who’s willing to work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year be able to support themselves without having to rely on government assistance or worry about falling into poverty?”

In 150 U.S. cities, workers from McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Wendy’s and other fast food chains hit the picket lines to call for as much. They were pushing for a minimum wage of at least $15 an hour during the latest of several “Fight for 15” protests labor organizations have held nationwide in recent months and years.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour which adds up to about $15,000 a year.

A new West Virginia law that took effect in June will raise the minimum wage in the Mountain State from $7.25 an hour to $8.00 an hour starting on Jan. 1, 2015 and from $8.00 an hour to $8.75 on Jan. 1, 2016.

State officials have said more than 100,000 West Virginians currently make minimum wage.

“The average age is 35. Most of them are married or have children. Most of them have at least some college education, almost all of them have a college degree. They take home about half of their family’s income,” O’Leary said on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

“These are workers (who are) supporting their families.”

Dozens of people were arrested in the protests across the United States on Thursday.

On Capitol Hill, Democrats have proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and tying it to an inflation index. Congressional Republicans, though, have blocked that proposal up to now.

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  • Mountain Navy

    This is why we do not need unions.

  • CB44

    Given what I've observed recently regarding quality of food and customer service, fast food workers are overpaid.

  • joe

    Krogers keeps hiring part time workers at minimum wage, and cutting hours for the store. Soon will have all part time workers getting 15-20 hours per week.

    • cutty77

      The main reason for that is because of Medical,and 401-K.

  • thornton

    I have wondered why the employees at fast food establishments routinely look I know.

    • Shawn H

      Good one!

    • WhgFeelin

      THAT is hilarious and I assume said with much sarcasm.

  • DWM

    You know why they are minimum wage workers when you give this some thought and realize that they all will be out of jobs if they are successful.

  • epeer

    There is a large percentage of state workers, with degrees and training, that make no where near $15/hour. This is nuts.

  • Raging Moderate

    Do minimum wage workers ever get 40 hours? The argument against the minimum wage has always been that businesses just won't hire, and jobs will be lost. I don't buy this argument. It seems to me that fast food hires exactly as many workers as they need to in order to adequately serve their customers.

    • Steve In WV

      You are correct that fast food establishments hire to meet their customers needs. However, raising the minimum wage only provides them a greater benefit to find an alternative way to meet those needs. Dont believe me? Google image search "Mcdonalds Order Kiosks." This could almost get rid of the need for a cashier. In other words, jobs will be lost.

      • Jason412

        Steve in WV,

        The fact McDonald's "hired" 7,000 kiosks in 2011, and who knows how many since then, shows McDonald's cashiers are on their way out even if the minimum wage doesn't rise. It will be the same at every other fast-food restaurant. It may happen faster if minimum wage is skyrocketed like this, but it will happen either way.

        • Steve In WV

          You are correct in all likelihood it will happen regardless. However, by increasing the minimum wage you create an incentive for them to do it by increasing their savings due to dumping the cashiers. This increased savings shortens the payback period of the investment in the machines.

      • Aaron

        You can order the same meal at Sheetz without worrying that your order gets messed up by a disgruntled employee.

        Each cashier working 40 hours a week equates to more than $16,000 a year with this desired raise.

        Decision-makers at most restaurants will not pay the amount of money required to keep individuals taking orders. They will be replaced back kiosk!

  • the flying dutchman

    hopefully what mr o'leary is quoted as saying is out of context. it strains credibility to say "most have some college education, almost all have a college degree" best its contradictory at worst its just not true. mr o'leary argument omits the fact that a higher minimum wage will eventually lead to fewer jobs as business's respond to the financial reality of higher costs. high pay for cooking burgers...the apocalypse is upon us.

  • Mike

    Should there be an accompanying discussion of workers seeking and maintaining "marketable skills?" My guess is that only a small percentage of minimum wage workers are stuck there through no fault of their own. The majority, however, are there because of decisions they made at some point in their life and have failed to enact a course and speed correction.

  • cutty77

    The Problem with this country is there is no middle class anymore. Plus our Dollor is worth about 60 cents. 7.25 an hr what the hell can you do with that. That will put 2 gallions of gas in your car. I feel sorry for young people under the age of 30,they have no shot in America.

  • Monty Burns

    Funny how there is no mention about the AFL-CIO or unions backing/sponsoring the protests. Me thinks this is an attempt for unioins to get new members.

  • Low Rider

    "Almost all of the minimum wage workers have a college degree". This is a total distortion of the facts. I know very few people with a college degree working at minimum wage.

    I worked a minimum wage job "in college"...but once I graduated I found a position with more responsibility and more pay. Most of the folks working at minimum wage stay there for a very short period of time. I am personal friends with a person who has been at Walmart for a number of years. She has received multiple increases in pay and now earns ~ $15 per hour.

  • Pudge

    The minimum wage is and always has been just that... the minimum. You can change it to anything you desire. Everybody else will still be paid higher and your buying power will always remain the same... the minimum.

    The minimum wage isn't the problem. The problem is the minimum wage "job". 30 yrs from now, fast food jobs will still be the lowest paying jobs available. I've heard people say... "You can't live off the minimum wage." Exactly, and you never will be able to.

    • Jon

      Pudge said it best. A major jump in minimum wage would cause a major jump in inflation. Jobs pay according to the company's need for that particular position. Take the telemarketer for example they are paid more than minimum wage because they need to to get employees and so forth down the line. Doctors are paid as much as they do for a reason

      • Jon

        Remember one can never be paid enough for their time

  • Frenchie

    The majority of minimum wage jobs require no more education than what a good fourth grade student has already learned. My 17 year old son (3.95 G.P.A. student) works for $7.25 an hour at K-Mart. Not only is he bored with the lack of challenge at work, he's also learning just how little that money actually buys him. People get paid big money for working hard. It doesn't take much of a brain for he and his co-workers to stock the shelves and empty the trash. He's college bound with an entrepreneurial mind and thankful for what he's learned at his minimum wage job.

  • arp

    Let the fast food wages rise! If it increases the price of fast food, that would be a good thing--it's incredibly unhealthy and Americans eat far too much of it. The obesity trend, which brings with it diabetes and other health problems, rapidly increased in correlation to more people eating fast food, in the 1970s and since. Americans eat 60% of their meals out, mainly at fast food restaurants.

    • Jason

      Yep, that will equate to another tax on the poor, because they will still choose to eat poorly at fast food restaurants regardless of the price, do you think raising the price of tobacco and alcohol really effects behavior, nope, people will sacrifice other aspects of their life. Raising min wage basically raises the overhead (cost) of doing business, with the demand still the same, all that will happen is that the brass at these places will just raise the sell price and pass the raised cost down the line...these minimum wage workers may see a spike in their buying power in the short term, but in the long term, it will even out with inflation and they will have the exact same buying power they do now. For example, do you think if the Fed made min wage $100 per hour, these huge corporations would just absorb that cost increase of their employees? Nope, as cost goes up the sell price goes up. Make the min wage whatever you want, it is all an illusion, it changes nothing in the big picture.