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Kansas City Fast Food Strike Has National Minimum Wage Tie

Some Kansas City fast food workers walked off the job July 29 in a seven city effort to hike the minimum wage to $15 and guarantee right to organize unions.   

Some 150 people marched in front of the Burger King at 47th and Troost. Democratic Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver joined in strike-support and argued for a higher minimum wage.  

"There is no empirical evidence to suggest all of the claims that we see by those who fight against the minimum wage," said Cleaver.

Cleaver pointed to major chains such as Costco which pay higher than minimum wage and still prosper.

Supervisors ran the mid-town Burger King strike-target with regular workers gone.  

Manager Nia Cline, who has 13 years with the company, says she agreed in part with workers, but $15 an hour is too much. She says $10 or $11 is reasonable. She favors the right to union organize without retaliation.

“I think every job should have a chance to do union," said Cline.

Carolina Hernandez, one of Cline’s supervisor colleagues agreed the minimum wage could go as high as $11 but $15 would be excessive.

Both women spoke with a KCUR reporter between fielding customer orders, lifting baskets of dripping French fries and making frozen concoctions.

Asked if she would get in trouble for partly agreeing with strikers, Cline says, “I’m just telling the truth.”

The Kansas City portion of the national strike was put together by a coalition called the “Worker’s Organizing Committee” with ties to the AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union.

It’s a two-day fast food strike at select chains in a few locations, Wendy’s and McDonalds included.

Cline’s restaurant continued service customers with 8 workers  on strike for the day shift.

She says there are normally 10 on duty, eight workers and two managers.  Five supervisors filled in to meet customer demand.

Cline was asked if the strike took the  restaurant by surprise. She shook her head and said, "There was talk all over about how it was coming.”

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