Columbia fast-food workers join nationwide strike

Workers seeking higher wages and the right to create a union without retaliation

POSTED: 09:00 AM CDT Aug 29, 2013    UPDATED: 07:49 PM CDT Aug 29, 2013 
Fast-food workers strike
COLUMBIA, Mo. -

Fast-food workers at several Columbia restaurants went on strike Thursday to portest for higher wages.

Workers at Columbia-area McDonald's, Taco Bell, Burger King and Hardee's walked off the job as part of a nationwide strike.

Employees in at least 50 U.S. cities were expected to strike and organizers say it will be the largest nationwide strike by fast-food workers.

The workers are demanding $15 per hour and the right to form a union without retaliation or unfair labor practices from corporations.

"Instead of talking minimum, I'm talking about let's get something we can all survive on," said Robin Acree, director of Grow Grassroots Organizing. She helped organize the protest and lead the chants.

Employees say despite the fast-food industry making record profits, workers are among the lowest paid. In Columbia, the city's 2,300 fast-food workers have a median wage of $8.53 an hour, according to organizers.

Local clergy supported Thursday's protest.

"This is what is just, this is what is moral and this is what we demand today," Rev. Molly Gordon said.

She went on to explain that many of the fast-food employees end up needing public support to live, which is then more money coming from the taxpayers' pockets.

However, others in the restaurant industry disagree.

John Larocca from the Missouri Restaurant Association said that if this were to happen, it would end up hurting the economy.

"That would mean your burger is going to cost you over $6, people aren't going to go out to eat, and people will be laid off," said Larocca.

Earlier this summer, about 2,200 of the nation's millions of fast-food workers staged a one-day strike in seven cities, including Kansas City and St. Louis.