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Fast-Food Workers Fight for $15 in Towns Across VA, U.S.

Across the country and across Virginia, as well as in the U.S. Senate cafeteria, low-wage workers protested Tuesday for $15 an hour. Photo by Fight for 15
Across the country and across Virginia, as well as in the U.S. Senate cafeteria, low-wage workers protested Tuesday for $15 an hour. Photo by Fight for 15
November 11, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. - Fast-food workers protested for a living wage in nearly 300 cities on Tuesday, including 20 Virginia towns. The Fight for 15 campaign sparked one-day strikes and protests around the country.

In Richmond, 40 to 50 fast-food employees, low-wage child care and home health-care workers marched from a McDonald's to city hall. Wendy's employee Priscilla Evans, who spoke by cell phone during the protest, said both she and her fiancé have low-wage jobs. Even though they both work and don't have children, she said, they have to fight just to get by.

"Seven twenty-five? That barely covers our bills. Barely," she said. "After we pay all our bills and stuff, it's still not enough. But when we get our $15 an hour, it'll be enough."

Some fast-food corporations have said increasing their employees' wages would lead to layoffs and job cuts. Others have raised their employees' pay, although few of the eateries pay $15 an hour.

Economists have compared fast-food restaurants in states that have raised their minimum wage to eateries just across nearby state borders. They found that raising the wage had little or no effect on employment. Lower turnover and more consumers with more money to spend offset the job losses, the economists say, although the increases were not as high as what Fight for 15 is asking for.

The issue is much more personal for Evans, who credited the national campaign with helping her find her voice.

"Being part of a national organization, it actually feels better knowing that I'm not just the only one," she said. "I'm not going to stop fighting to get $15 until it happens."

According to Fight for 15, the protest is timed to come exactly one year before the presidential election. The group said raising low-end wages is very popular, and Fight for 15 can bring millions of new voters to the polls for any candidate who backs the effort.

More information is online at fightfor15.org or raiseupfor15.org.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA