National protests again target minimum wage

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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