Fast food workers in Southern California who took part in a nationwide strike demanding better wages and union rights protested inside a South LA McDonald's restaurant Thursday and conducted a sit-down in downtown Los Angeles streets.
Local McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s workers were among those who walked off their jobs to call for $15 an hour wages and the right to form a union.
Fast food workers in more than 150 cities were expected to take part in the one-day strike Thursday. Local workers gathered at a McDonald’s on the 1000 block of west Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in South LA at 5 a.m. to begin the strike.
“It’s very hard to live off of $9.27 (an hour),” McDonald’s cashier Selvie Lane said.
During the first hour of the strike at the South LA restaurant, dozens of fast food workers picketed and blocked the driveway of the restaurant.
"I have a 3-year-old daughter and I can barely provide for her how I want," McDonald's employee Jibri Range said.
Both Range and Selvie plan to take part in acts of civil disobedience during Thursday's strike. By the second hour of the strike, the workers marched inside the McDonald's to protest.
At about mid-day, protesters sat down in a downtown LA street as a planned act of civil disobedience. Preliminary numbers from the LAPD indicated nine arrests, misdemeanor offenses for unlawful assembly and failure to disperse.
The National Restaurant Association called the protests a last-gasp attempt by labor groups to gain membership.
“This is a national, multi-million dollar campaign engineered, organized and funded by national labor groups. The activities have proven to be orchestrated union PR events where the vast majority of participants are activists and paid demonstrators. This is nothing more than labor groups’ self-interested attempts to boost their dwindling membership by targeting restaurant employees. We hope labor organizers will not escalate with aggressive tactics or intimidation, and will act with respect toward our customers and employees.
“Restaurants continue to be a critical employer that trains America’s workforce and provides a pathway towards upward mobility and success.”
Earlier this week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a proposal to raise the city’s minimum wage to $13.25 by 2017. The current minimum wage in California is $9 and is set to go up to $10 in 2016.