CHICAGO (CBS) — A small group of restaurant workers and their advocates protested outside the National Restaurant Association Show at McCormick Place this morning, reports WBBM’s Regine Schlesinger.

The demonstrators say the National Restaurant Association has been lobbying for years to thwart their efforts to organize and press for higher pay and benefits.

Andre Butler, who works banquets, says the $40 per six-hour shift he ends up taking home, is not enough to live on. He says those working conditions hurt restaurant employees and customers.

“He or she is paying for the meal. Then, he’s tipping the server. And then, many of the servers live off of state Medicaid or food stamps so then, the tax dollars pay for that. The customer is actually paying three times. That’s not fair to the worker nor is it fair to the customer.”

he demonstrators say the National Restaurant Association has been lobbying for years to thwart their efforts to organize. (Credit: Regine Schlesinger)

he demonstrators say the National Restaurant Association has been lobbying for years to thwart their efforts to organize. (Credit: Regine Schlesinger)

He believes a wage of $12 an hour would be fairer.

In response, the National Restaurant Association calls the handful of protesters, “detractors who are trying to distract from the fact that the restaurant industry provides tremendous opportunities and a pathway to the middle class.”