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Fast-food wage protests grow

NEW YORK — Labor organizers turned up the pressure on McDonald's and other fast-food chains Thursday to raise workers' pay, with plans to stage actions in more than 30 countries.

The demonstrations build on a campaign by unions to bring attention to the plight of low-wage workers and get the public behind the idea of a $15-an-hour wage in the United States.

In Tampa, about 30 fast-food workers protested outside a McDonald's restaurant Thursday morning on Kennedy Boulevard, demanding higher wages and union benefits.

"I'm just here to raise my voice," said Bleu Rainer, 25, an Arby's employee who showed up before 7 a.m. to join the gang outside McDonald's. "Standing together makes the loudest noise."

As morning commuters sped past, the group lined the sidewalk, hoisting an effigy of Ronald McDonald and flashing signs that read, "Do it for the People" and "We are worth More."

Images on social media showed workers demonstrating in places including Denmark; Dublin, Ireland, and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Though many customers say they're not aware of the ongoing actions, the campaign has captured national media attention at a time when the income gap between the rich and the poor has widened and executive pay packages have come under greater scrutiny.

President Barack Obama has also been working to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. The current rate of $7.25 translates to about $15,000 a year, assuming a person works 40 hours a week.

Still, fast-food workers have historically been considered difficult to unionize because many are part-timers who don't stay on the job for long. But supporters say that is changing, with more people relying on such jobs to support families.

The National Restaurant Association called the actions "nothing more than big labor's attempt to push their own agenda."

Times staff writer Dan Sullivan contributed to this report, which also used information from the Associated Press.

Fast-food wage protests grow 05/15/14 [Last modified: Friday, May 16, 2014 1:50pm]
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