DENVER (CBS4)– Protesters demanding a higher minimum wage in Denver shut down a McDonald’s restaurant on Wednesday night.
The “Fight for $15” protest was one of several nationwide that had demonstrators demanding a higher living wage.
Hundreds of protesters swarmed the McDonald’s at Colfax Avenue and Osage Street. Once inside, they effectively shut down the restaurant by keeping customers at bay.
The “Fight for $15” campaign started in 2012 with fast food workers. It has since expanded to home healthcare workers, janitors and others in typically low paying careers.
“I cannot live for under $10 an hour. I need $15,” said Andrew Olson who has a job and earns minimum wage.
The organization behind the rallies chose tax day to highlight the fact that while minimum wage workers are on public assistance just to get by, many of the corporations that employ them get major tax breaks.
Olson said he lives in pain every day because he needs four impacted teeth removed. He doesn’t have benefits and doesn’t have enough saved to pay for his dental work.
“We all need this because it is so ridiculous, it’s hard to live in the situation you’re in,” said Olson.
The minimum wage in Colorado is $8.23 an hour. Some believe there could be negative consequences if that wage is increased.
“There is no way a restaurant can possibly maintain its business the way it is now,” said Colorado Restaurant Association spokeswoman Carolyn Livingston.
Livingston warns that raising the minimum wage could mean higher prices for fast food and wreck the industry.
“I want people to know that restaurants already pay competitive wages. These are wages that are allowing people to have a lifestyle that they deserve and that they want,” said Livingston.
Both San Francisco and Seattle recently passed laws making $15 an hour the minimum wage in those cities. While it’s unclear what the long-term effect will be, restaurants in Seattle said the competition for those minimum wage jobs has become fierce.
A bill to raise the minimum wage in Colorado failed at the state Capitol on Wednesday.