Rally for higher fast-food wages in Atlanta

Rally for higher fast-food wages in Atlanta

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ATLANTA -

A rally in front an Atlanta fast-food restaurant early Thursday morning pushing for higher wages and the right for workers to unionize brought out about two dozen protestors, but very few fast-food workers.

All News 106.7's Carolyn Ryan found most of those at the protest at the 6 a.m. rally were part of local labor unions and a few concerned citizens. She found very few were actually recruited from area fast-food restaurants for the protest. She spoke with a Burger King employee, Joshua Collins, who says he joined in the protest for his son.

"I'm here because in reality, I can't afford to get my son Christmas this year. And you know I feel even if I move on, I feel I do this now; it will help someone else behind me. I'm doing this for my son, my future and my principles," said Burger King employee Joshua Collins.

The group gathered outside the Krystal on Moreland Ave in southeast Atlanta at 6 a.m. for first of two rallies organized by Atlanta Jobs With Justice. They say they are joining 100 cities across the United States calling for a livable minimum wage for fast-food workers. Several demonstrators held a lighted sign spelling out their goal: "Raise the wage" and a sign quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stating 'Capitalism has outlived its usefulness."

Tina McCoy, who works at a Church's Chicken restaurant, told the Associated Press that a $15 an hour wage would be sufficient to live comfortably and pay bills while Long John Silver's employee Antwon Brown says he's been working in the industry for six or seven years, and that low wages are unfair and unconstitutional.

The restaurant industry disagrees explaining the jobs are meant to be entry-level positions and not life-long careers. Their concern is that if the minimum wage was raised to $15, a big pinch would be felt by consumers.

At one point, the group entered the restaurant to present the management with their demands. A Krystal's spokesperson responded in a statement sent to FOX 5 News calling the incident a stunt.

"At Krystal, our goal is to promote open honest communication and provide the best possible work environment for our employees. Third party trespassing and disruption of our customers and our business does not serve that purpose," stated Krystal's Chief People Officer Craig Barton.

Krystal further stated that they believed that the protestors were associated with the Fast Food Forward segment of the Service Employees Union. They call the group's nationwide campaign to increase wages to $15 an unsustainable one for a restaurant like Krystal.

The national protest also calls for workers to walk off the job Thursday or to call in sick to work to participate in the rallies. FOX 5 News has not received any reports of this actually occurring in Atlanta.

Organizers of the protest say there are about 75,000 fast-food workers in the Atlanta area, making a median wage of around $8.65 an hour.

FOX 5's Morse Diggs reports that fast-food workers begin work with an average rate of about $8.15 an hour. By comparison, general custodians make about $8.14 an hour to start, while hospital orderlies begin with an $8.16 hourly rate. EMTs and paramedics start off making about $10.93 an hour.

Another demonstration was scheduled at Cleopas R. Johnson Park at 5 p.m. The group is once again expecting to have fast-food workers join union members, politicians and other community activists.

Join the discussion: Do you think fast-food workers should be paid more? Leave a comment on our post at facebook.com/FOX5Atlanta or send us a tweet at @FOX5Atlanta

The Associated Press contributed to this article

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