Hartford Joins National Fast-Food Worker Strike

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCConnecticut.com
    Fast-food workers in Hartford are joining in on a national strike, looking for $15 per hour wages and the right to unionize without retaliation.

    If you plan to grab a burger or a donut at a fast-food restaurant in Hartford today, you might find that the workers are striking. 

    Fast-food workers in Hartford are joining thousands of fast-food workers across the country who are walking off the job today and taking to the streets as part of a national strike.

    It's expected be the largest nationwide strike by fast-food workers, according to organizers. The biggest effort so far was over the summer when about 2,200 of the nation's millions of fast-food workers staged a one-day strike in seven cities.

    Workers said they want $15 an hour, which would be about $31,000 a year for full-time employees. That's more than double the federal minimum wage, which many fast food workers make, of $7.25 an hour, or $15,000 a year.

    It is also significantly more than minimum wage in Connecticut, which has one of the highest rates in the country.

    Earlier this summer, Gov. Dannel Malloy signed legislation that would increase the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 to $8.70 on Jan. 1, 2014, followed by an increase to $9 on Jan. 1, 2015. 

    Earlier this summer, there were strikes in seven cities as workers banded together to demand what they call a “liveable wage.”

    McDonald's Corp. and Burger King Worldwide Inc. say that they don't make decisions about pay for the independent franchisees that operate the majority of their U.S. restaurants.

    For the restaurants it does own, McDonald's said in a statement that pay starts at minimum wage but the range goes higher, depending on the employee's position and experience level. It said that raising entry-level wages would mean higher overall costs, which could result in higher prices on menus.

    "That would potentially have a negative impact on employment and business growth in our restaurants, as well as value for our customers," the company said in a statement.

    The Wendy's Co. and Yum Brands Inc., which owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, did not respond to a request for comment.

    The National Restaurant Association says the low wages reflect the fact that most fast-food workers tend to be younger and have little work experience. Scott DeFife, a spokesman for the group, says that doubling wages would hurt job creation, noting that fast-food chains are already facing higher costs for ingredients, as well as new regulations that will require them to pay more in health care costs.

    There will be rallies today in 50 cities, including Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Memphis, New York, Oakland, Raleigh and Tampa, and it is expected to be the biggest strike involving fast-food workers.