Workers continue fast-food minimum wage protests

Fast-food and other low-wage workers will be joined by union activists today for a series of protests in Los Angeles and across the country as part of a continuing campaign for a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

The local protests, organized by the Service Employees International Union, will include fast-food, home-care and child-care workers, along with other "underpaid" employees, according to organizers.

A 6 a.m. rally is planned outside a McDonald's restaurant at 101 W. Manchester Ave. in South Los Angeles. Another rally is planned at 11 a.m. at a McDonald's at 690 S. Alameda, followed by a march to Los Angeles City Hall for a midday protest. Some workers will then board buses bound for Oakland for more marches.

According to organizers, similar rallies will be held across California and in other states, including Ohio, Florida and Virginia as part of a nationwide call for $15-an-hour wages and union rights. Union officials say more than 60 million Americans, including 3.2 million Californians, are paid less than $15 an hour.

The city and county of Los Angeles have both approved laws raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. The statewide minimum wage is $9 an hour but is set to increase to $10 an hour in January.

Organizers behind today's rallies are backing a proposed statewide initiative they hope to get on the November 2016 ballot that would raise the California minimum wage to $15 by 2020 and guarantee full-time workers receive
at least six paid sick days per year. A separate proposed statewide initiative would raise the wage to $15 an hour by 2021.

Opponents of the wage increases, including many business groups, have argued that the raises will force companies to lay off workers or boost the prices of goods and services to meet the increased costs.

In July, McDonald's implemented a salary policy guaranteeing that workers at company-owned restaurants are paid $1 an hour more than the prevailing minimum wage in the communities where the eateries are located. The
policy also enables workers to accrue paid time off after one year of service.

Some union officials were critical of the policy, noting that it does not apply to franchise restaurants, where owners can set their own salaries.

Only about 10 percent of McDonald's restaurants are company-owned.

From Sandra Endo:

Fast food workers and other low wage workers rally in their "fight for 15," they are pushing for an increase in the minimum wage, $15 dollars an hour by 2020.

It's a new law passed in LA but workers are hoping the state and federal government follow suit. The state minimum wage is $9 dollars an hour is set to go up a dollar in January.

Workers like Fanny Velazquez tells Fox 11's Sandra Endo she makes just over $10 dollars an hour, "it's not enough. I'm a single mother and it's a struggle to pay the bills we need to get paid more."

Some opponents say raising the minimum wage could force companies to automate some jobs and lay off employees.

Protesters are hoping Congress hears their message and the increase will be approved in next year's election.

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