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Gas Station Attendants, Retail Workers Join Kansas City Fast-Food Strike

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Elle Moxley
/
KCUR

About 150 Kansas City workers walked off the job Thursday to demand higher wages and better benefits.

Fast-food workers across the country have been calling for a $15 an hour minimum wage for two years. 

"Each strike we get bigger," says Dana Wittman, a 38-year-old Subway worker. "This strike includes retail workers, gas stations – we're expanding, and these companies are noticing it."

Wittman is raising three kids on her minimum wage job and says she often has to chose between paying for food and her utility bill. She says many people do not understand the realities of very low-wage workers.

"You're out there, you can afford to go to Subway and eat McDonald's. I can't," says Wittman. "I don't get to go to McDonald's. I don't have that luxury. I have to eat ramen and chicken noodle soup out of a can."

Andrew McConnell, 32, works at a Kansas City, Kan., McDonald's, and is also trying to raise kids on $7.45 an hour.

"Telephone, water, lights, gas, groceries, toiletries, paper goods, soap, deodorant – basic necessities are very scarce. You must make life choice over very simple things," says McConnell.

McConnell says it's a misconception that most fast-food workers are teenagers just entering the workforce.

"In my store, they're hiring more and more people over the age of 27," says McConnell. "They're hiring adults to do the job because it is an important job. Customer service is important. Dealing with the public is important."

McConnell says although neither Kansas nor Missouri has increased workers' wages since the protests began, it's been encouraging to see other cities move the needle.

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