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Local Fast Food Workers Rally For $15/hr

Posted at 10:52 PM, Apr 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-14 23:56:24-04
Dozens of people protested for a raise in minimum wage throughout Nashville.
 
With a few choice words, posters and the support of dozens of people she'd never met, McDonald's worker, Semetra Johnson said it was all she can do to try to get a pay raise.
 
"At least make it to the next check without having to borrow money to get to work!" she said.
 
With children in tow, dozens of protesters marched from Centennial Park through West End and eventually landed at McDonald's, a restaurant they consider the symbol of poverty-level wages.
 
"It's hard for all the mothers out here struggling today," shouted Angelique Johnson into a megaphone to the cheering crowd. Many of those involved do not work at McDonald's, but rather at other low-paying jobs they say make it impossible to make ends meet.
 
The fight to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 dollars an hour isn't new. But with tax day looming it's renewed the passion in groups across the country. Thursday marked similar protests in cities all over the U.S. 
 
"If you want us off of government assistance give us a living wage," yelled a man who identified himself as a T-mobile call center worker.
 
While McDonald usually welcomes customers with open arms, protesters are a different story. Thursday the group blocked the drive-through and a manager came outside.
 
"Excuse me," she shouted to the protesters, "if you're not purchasing food you need to leave off of our property or you will be arrested." The crowd tried to drown her out with their chants.
 
Tense moments ensued as police prepared dozens of zip ties, just in case they needed to get involved. But eventually folks moved back to the sidewalk, including Semetra and her 14-month-old grandson.
 
"I just adopted my grandbaby and I barely make it to the next check sometimes," she said. 
 
She makes slightly over minimum wage and says she hopes all fast food franchise owners take notice. Because she says she can't afford the necessities to live.
 
"Diapers, gas, food, pay bills," she listed.

Last year, McDonald's announced that raises were coming for employees at all corporate-owned restaurants, to eventually average more than $10 an hour by the end of 2016.

The company released this statement to NewsChannel 5 Thursday:

“We proudly invest in the future of those who work in McDonald's restaurants," said Lisa McComb, a spokesperson for McDonald's. "In addition to raising the minimum wage for employees at our company-owned restaurants, we also offer employees access to Archways to Opportunity, a set of programs McDonald’s pays for which helps them earn a high school diploma and get needed tuition assistance so they can work toward earning a college degree."

However that wage increase does not include workers at the McDonald's franchise restaurants.