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CHICAGO (CBS) – Minimum wage workers in Chicago were joining others across the country for a one-day strike for what they say would be a living wage.
WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports a couple hundred fast food and retail workers chanted “we can’t survive on $8.25” as they rallied outside and inside the Rock N Roll McDonald’s in the River North neighborhood.
The workers said they’re fighting for a raise to at least $15 an hour.
Tyree Johnson said he’s worked at McDonald’s for 21 years, but is still earning minimum wage — $8.25 an hour in Illinois for workers 18 and older; and $7.75 for those under the age of 18, or older employees on the job less than 90 days.
“Every time I ask for a raise, they tell me ‘You shouldn’t have joined that union, we’re not giving you no raise,’” he said.
Why stay at a job for 21 years at minimum wage?
“With the help of this union, I’m going to overcome this,” he said.
The workers said they’re tired of having to choose between paying the rent, or groceries.
“We’re out here striking for our minimum wage to rise, for respect,” McDonald’s employee Nancy Selgado said. “We’re here to fight. We’re not alone.”
Congressman Jan Schakowsky came out to lead the protesters in a march around the block.
“They are among thousands and thousands of low-wage workers around the country, who have a really reasonable and simple request, and that is that they be paid a living wage,” she said. “They are treated very badly by their employers. They cannot make ends meet.”
In a written statement, McDonald’s USA said, “The story promoted by the individuals organizing these events does not provide an accurate picture of what it means to work at McDonald’s.”
“McDonald’s aims to offer competitive pay and benefits to our employees. We provide training and professional development for all of those who wish to take advantage of those opportunities. Our history is full of examples of individuals who worked their first job with McDonald’s and went on to successful careers both within and outside of McDonald’s.”
The Wendy’s fast food chain also offered a response to the workers’ strike.
“We are proud to provide a place where thousands of people, who come to us asking for a job, can enter the workforce at a starting wage, gain skills and advance with us or move on to something else,” Wendy’s spokesman Bob Bertini said in an email.