HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Strikes and protests are happening all over the country, demanding an increase in the minimum wage. It’s being called a national day of action by the “Fight for 15” movement.
Fast food workers in Hartford and around the country took to the streets to call for higher wages. Yvonne Rodriguez was walking the picket line. She has four kids to support on what she makes at Dunkin Donuts.
“Us families these days are struggling so hard that it’s ridiculous,” Rodriguez said. “We are only fighting for what we deserve and what is right for us.”
The protest is part of “Fight for 15,” a national movement to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Events like this are scheduled in approximately 340 cities around the country. The idea is to not just involve fast food workers. Workers at several major airports were also involved in this labor action, threatening to disrupt air travel all over the country. Uber drivers were invited, as well.
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About 40 people started marching in front of the McDonald’s on Prospect Avenue in Hartford at 6 a.m. Breaunna Jones was one of them. She makes minimum wage working at that McDonalds.
“I actually have to have another job on the side, which pretty much gives me no time to get an education,” said Jones.
She would certainly like to get an education, in order to get a job that pays more than minimum wage. The fundamental complaint is that the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Even if you’re allowed to work 40 hours a week, that’s only $15,000 a year, and people simply cannot live on that. With a wage of $15 an hour, at least people have a shot at putting food on the table.
Connecticut’s minimum wage is higher than most. Right now it stands at $9.60 an hour, but on January first, it goes up to $10.10. Workers know there’s an increase coming, but they also know it’s not enough.
“$10.60 or $10.50 or whatever it’s going to be, it’s not going to help,” said Jones. “It’s not going to do anything. We’re going for $15 an hour and that’s what we want: $15 an hour.”
The difference between $10 and change an hour and $15 is huge for someone struggling to get by. Last night, Yvonne Rodriguez sat down and did two graphs with all her expenses.
“I did my rent, my lights, my gas, everything, all my bills, and if I did $10 an hour times 40 hours, I was short,” Rodriguez said. “I didn’t have enough to provide for my children, provide for my bills, to provide for anything. But then I did another graph. Fifteen dollars, 40 hours, and I actually had about $150 left over that I could put away for hard times.”
Employers say they simply can’t afford $15 an hour. They say the will either go out of business, hire fewer people, or automate. McDonald’s is already talking about putting electronic kiosks in restaurant, so you’ll be able to order and get your food without even talking to a human.