New York fast-food workers strike for higher wages

Pedestrians pass a Dunkin' Donuts and a Pizza Hut in Brooklyn, NY.

NEW YORK – Workers at McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut and other fast-food restaurants in New York City are walking off the job today to protest low wages.

The one-day strike, taking place on the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is organized by a labor-community coalition called Fast Food Forward that is calling for fast-food companies to pay their workers $15 an hour.

King was shot dead in 1968 while he was in Memphis to lead a march supporting sanitation workers striking for higher pay.

Currently, fast-food workers typically earn $7.25 (the New York state minimum wage) to $9 an hour, the New York Times reported, noting that $9 an hour adds up to about $18,000 a year for a full-time worker.

"It's not enough," Elba Godoy, who earns $7.25 an hour at a McDonald's near Times Square, told NBC News. "They don't like [that we're out here], but we have to do it. We cannot survive on $7.25."

Fast-food workers also held a strike for higher wages in Nov. 2012, and the organizers said they expect twice as many people — more than 400 — to strike today, the New York Times reported.

“What happened in November was a very big thing in terms of seeing whether workers were ready and able to go out and strike and take risks in a way that has not happened in the fast-food industry before,” Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change, a strike organizer, told the New York Times. “A lot of people have been emboldened by what happened last time.”

The protest will conclude with a rally on 125th Street in Harlem.

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