DENVER (AP/CBS4) — Fast food workers in Denver are participating in a national strike to win $15 an hour wages, and three people were arrested when they sat down in the road and refused to get up.
Workers from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and other fast food restaurants walked off their jobs as part of the strike on Thursday.
About 100 people picketed a McDonald’s on the city’s west side in the morning. They walked around the store and inside, and they held signs and used buckets as drums.
Another demonstration took place at a McDonald’s near the state capitol building around noon.
Participants shouted: “Hold the burger, hold the fries, make our wages supersized!”
One woman said she protested because it was difficult trying to take care of her family on her wage.
“I’m here asking for $15 an hour because I’m a single mother and frankly I can’t make ends meet making what I make,” McDonald’s employee Yolanda Tellez said. “It’s very difficult. I actually have five children and it’s very difficult to make ends meet to make sure that they have food on the table.”
“I’m here because I want to help my mom and other workers that have kids so they can get what they want and pay rent,” Yolanda’s daughter Luce said.
Organizers vowed to engage in civil disobedience to draw attention to their cause. They marched across the cross walks at Pennsylvania Street at Colfax Avenue. When traffic became blocked that’s when officers moved in.
“They were basically obstructing a roadway and disobeying a lawful order,” Denver police technician Ron Hackett said.
Three protesters were arrested. One was Rev. Patrick Demmer of Denver. The two others were fast food workers.
Protests are also taking place in approximately 150 other cities, where dozens were arrested.
There were also several organizations supporting employees during the protest.
Maggie Gomez, representing the grassroots organization 9 to 5, said they are pushing for better workplace policies among fast food retailers.
“9 to 5 is here today because we strongly support all workers who are fighting for economic justice. All these workers who are in the fast food industry are demanding $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. And that’s something we strongly stand behind because working families should not have to rely on assistance because the wages are so low when they are working 40 hours a week.”
The National Restaurant Association called the protests orchestrated events to get attention: “This is nothing more than labor groups’ self-interested attempts to boost their dwindling membership by targeting restaurant employees.”
In a statement, McDonald’s said any minimum wage increase should happen gradually to protect small-business owners. Colorado minimum wage is $8 an hour.
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