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Fast Food Workers Strike for Better Wages

Thursday's strike was the first effort by city fast-food employees to protest low wages.

Across the city, fast-food workers banded together on Thursday to protest low wages and part-time hours, according to Crain’s New York Business.

Workers from about 20 restaurant chains, like McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC – mostly in Manhattan, but a few in Brooklyn – went on strike to protest the $200 billion fast-food industry.

In charge of the pickets was New York Communities for Change, a labor-backed group that, according to Crain’s has had some success organizing car wash and grocery store employees in the city recently.

"Most of the [fast-food] workers are earning minimum wage and living in poverty," Jonathan Westin, organizing director for the group, told Crain’s.

Pols like Bill Thompson, a possible mayoral candidate, told the paper: "Many hardworking fast food employees earn less than $18,000 a year, making it nearly impossible to afford food, clothing, rent and school supplies for their children on their current wages.

City Comptroller John Liu, who also may have plans to run for mayor in 2013, said in a statement: "It's a shame that many fast-food workers have to rely on public assistance when the corporations they work for are among the wealthiest in the nation and their CEOs earn millions. Jobs that don't pay a fair wage contribute to the City's widening income gap, which hurts the economy as a whole."

The campaign is supported by major union SEIU, and is asking for hourly wages for fast-food employees to be raised to $15, about $6 more than is currently. A new union, the Fast Food Workers Committee, is in the works.

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