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Fast Food Wage Protest Aims To Gain KC Momentum

Dan Verbeck

More than a hundred people striking fast food chains brought their second one-day action in a month to   Kansas City area locations.

The demands were higher pay and right to unionize without retaliation.

They carried signs but did not picket three locations and it was more a protest rally than formal strike.

Terrance Wise marched in both July and August  against different restaurant  chains and said he’s seen changes as a result, a few pay hikes,  “and the respect level. I’ve been hearing Please and Thank You a lot more often at both my work places. So, we’ll take the small victories.”

Wise said he works at two fast food chains, nine years at Burger King for $9.25 an hour and two years at a Pizza Hut at $7.40 an hour. Wise said neither has benefits and are part time employment.

He told of losing his home in the past year and is raising three daughters.

A volunteer with the organization promoting changes, The Workers Organizing Committee of Kansas City,  attorney Gina Chiala said it is not a boycott and is also aimed at improving income of retail workers.

One of the drive supporters, Mike Bainum of Lake Quivira, Kan. said he had a career selling restaurant supplies to some of the same restaurants being targeted. He said the disparity of income is greatest it’s been in his 70 years.

Bainum believes people who make more money buy more products and boost the economy. Those earning low wages are thrown into getting  taxpayer subsidies such as food stamps.

Bainum calls wages of 7 and 8 dollars an hour a problem for every taxpayer.

At one east side restaurant a uniformed employee complained to a police officer about protestor behavior, saying they forced their way into the restaurant, harassed and shouted at her.

The police officer reassured the woman, who refused to identify herself because she was not authorized to speak, that protestors had been told to move away.

No one was arrested.

The protest, financially supported by Service Employees International Union, was taking place in 60 cities around the Country.

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