SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Fast-food protests are underway in cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages.
In New York, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn joined about 300 to 400 workers and supporters in a march before flooding inside a McDonald's near the Empire State Building on Thursday morning. Shortly after the demonstration, however, the restaurant seemed to be operating normally and a few customers said they hadn't heard of the movement. The same was true at a McDonald's a few blocks away.
The lack of awareness among some illustrates the challenge workers face. Participating workers, who are asking for $15 an hour and the right to unionize, still represent a tiny fraction of the industry. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, which works out to about $15,000 a year for full-time employees.
No strikes occurred in the Santa Barbara area, but locals expressed their support for the fast-food workers.