RALEIGH — The Rev. William Barber marched down the sidewalk of Tarboro Street in Raleigh with a cane in his right hand, bellowing “Worker’s rights!” at about 100 fast food workers from across the state who chanted back, “We can’t survive off $7.25!” under the sweltering afternoon sun.
“It’s time-out for a colonel that’s dead to be getting more respect than the living, it’s time-out for a clown like Ronald (McDonald) to get more respect than workers that sell the hamburgers,” Barber, president of N.C. NAACP, said in his keynote speech. “It’s time-out for a phony king named Burger to be treated better than workers that go work every day.”
The strike is a part of a nationwide movement called “Low Pay is Not OK,” in which thousands of fast food workers agreed to go on strike Thursday in a bid to raise their hourly wage to $15, obtain workers’ benefits and unionize the fast food industry. Workers in about 60reporter’s notes cities across the nation participated.
In North Carolina, the strikers organized meetings in Durham, Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh.
Many fast food workers are living in poverty because they receive low wages despite their hard work, Barber said.
“I’m broke,” said Julio Wilson, 34, who attended the strike. Wilson works 20 to 22 hours a week as an assistant manager at Little Caesars on Capital Boulevard in Raleigh. He earns $9 an hour, walks a mile and a half to work every day and helps support his 5-year-old daughter.
“She just started school and needs shoes, needs clothes, but I have bills, I need to live and it’s hard,” he said. “I’m tired when I get home every day.”
Increasing wages would also increase the amount of circulating spending money in the economy, Barber said, as current low-wage earners would eventually be able to spend more, which would create jobs.
Barber called on U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., to act in the U.S. Congress to combat low wages.