DENVER (CBS4) – Workers across the Denver metro area joined thousands of others across the country on Tuesday to demand a better living wage in a movement called “Fight for 15 Day.”
About 50 to 100 people gathered at the McDonald’s restaurant at Evans and Colorado on Tuesday morning to protest. They claim they cannot live on the current minimum wage. They also want the opportunity to unionize.
Low-wage workers told CBS4 they hope to gain some attention in advance of the 2016 presidential election and hope the issue will factor into the campaign.
There were walkouts scheduled in 270 cities nationwide that included union workers from the Service Employees International Union. The low-wage workers included those who not only work in the fast food industry, but also janitors and home care.
“I am from a family of five children, my mom is chronically ill, so $15 would really help when we’re paying our bills and making sure we have food and water, everything working in order,” said protester Aubrey Anderson. “Union rights would really ensure that I get that without feeling threatened in the workplace.”
A second demonstration was held Tuesday afternoon in Civic Center Park in front the City and County Building in Denver that drew about 200 protesters who then moved to the Capitol, which forced Broadway and Lincoln Street to close temporarily.
“The cost of living has gone up so much, especially here in Denver and Aurora that the minimum wage of $8.23 is just not cutting it for anybody,” Anderson said.
McDonald’s released this statement in regards to the protests: “At McDonald’s, employees can both earn and learn, which we know is vital to attract and retain talented people.
In July, wages at our company-owned restaurants in the U.S. increased one dollar over the locally-mandated minimum wage, which affects more than 90,000 employees. We also expanded our education program to help 750,000 employees who work at both company and franchised McDonald’s restaurants receive high school and college tuition assistance. We provide training, resources, and opportunities to our employees to aid them in their McDonald’s career and beyond.
Generally speaking, the topic of minimum wage goes well beyond McDonald’s – it affects our country’s entire workforce. McDonald’s and our independent franchisees support paying our valued employees fair wages aligned with a competitive marketplace. We believe that any minimum wage increase should be implemented over time so that the impact on owners of small and medium-sized businesses – like the ones who own and operate the majority of our restaurants – is manageable.
We respect people’s right to peacefully protest, and our restaurants remain open every day with the focus on providing an exceptional experience for our customers.”