US workers push for $15 an hour minimum wage

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at May 19 2014 10:07 AM | Updated as of May 20 2014 06:36 PM

NEW YORK – May 15th was dubbed by protesters as the day to “fight for 15.”

Thousands of fast food workers walked off their jobs and protested in front of popular fast food chains in 150 cities around the world.

From New York to Chicago, dozens of low wage workers and their supporters are demanding for a higher minimum wage.

Larry Holmes of the People’s Power assembly said, “We are here in front of this, the biggest McDonald’s in New York, in Times Square, just to show our love and our support for these brave workers who are fighting for a decent wage, $15 an hour, and the right to a union.”

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

In New York, the state already raised its minimum wage to $8 an hour last December and will raise it again to $9 by the end of 2015.

President Obama has been advocating to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10.

While this is already happening for some new government contractors – Congress is yet to approve the $10.10 minimum wage for all workers.

"$10 is not enough. $15 should be the minimum. No one can live with $10 anymore, especially in New York City, $10 is no good," New York City resident King Manalili said.

Currently across the U.S., the average fast-food worker makes about $9 an hour or $18,500 a year.

Business owners have often argued that raising the minimum wage means higher labor costs that could force businesses to close or raise their prices. They say that would eventually lead to higher unemployment. But many workers don’t buy that.

“Their CEO’s are millionaires and billionaires,” Holmes said. “What we know is that they make tremendous profits at these restaurants and most importantly we know that these workers cannot survive on $7.25 or $8 an hour or even $9 or $10.”

Houston, Texas resident Jon Evangelista said,”I think if it’s possible they should get higher wages. We work hard, so I think it’s fair.”

Organizers say workers will continue their protests in the weeks to come until they win “the fight for 15.”