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Fast-food strike doesn't reach El Paso

By Matthew Smith, Good Morning El Paso Weekend Anchor / Reporter
Published On: Aug 29 2013 02:34:03 PM CDT
Updated On: Jan 16 2014 01:04:14 PM CST

Good Morning El Paso Weekend

EL PASO, Texas -

Across the country, fast-food workers are going on strike looking for a raise in minimum wage.

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.

Similar protests organized by unions and community groups over the past several months have brought considerable media attention to a staple of the fast-food industry - the so-called "McJobs" that are known for their low pay and limited prospects. But it's not clear what impact, if any, they will have on business.

In El Paso, there are no strikes, picket signs or angry mobs. In fact, if you ask fast-food employees in west El Paso, they'll tell you they'd be more than happy to make $15 an hour, but there are no plans to strike.

"My mom, she barely makes $15 an hour after two raises and she has more experience then someone at McDonald's," said one teen, who declined to give her name. She said as a minimum-wage employee she'd welcome a raise, but questioned how it'd affect someone who makes a similar wage already.

Nearby a construction worker at a west El Paso Walgreen's said it'd been years since he'd worked minimum wage, but cautioned those looking for a wage.

"Do the math between $10 and $15 and you don't make any more," he said. "You pay more in tax and it knocks you off welfare."

While locally the movement hasn't begun, a national movement comes amid calls from the White House, some members of Congress and economists to hike the federal minimum wage. But most proposals seek a far more modest increase than the one workers are asking for, with President Barack Obama wanting to boost it to $9 an hour.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez compared the protests to the demands of demonstrators in the 1963 March on Washington, who sought a national minimum wage to give workers better living standards.

"For all too many people working minimum wage jobs, the rungs on the ladder of opportunity are feeling further and further apart," said Perez, who's taking a lead role in Obama's push for a higher minimum wage.

The Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 2 million works in health care, janitorial and other industries, has been providing financial support and training for local organizers in the fast-food strikes around the country.

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