A dozen people stood in front of McDonald’s in Oberlin with signs Thursday, part of a national push for higher wages for fast-food employees.
The group in front of the McDonald’s on Oberlin’s South Main Street was not affiliated with the restaurant.
“I’m here because I’m a retired Ford worker and we made a decent wage, but we had to organize to get it,” Oberlin resident Quincy Land Jr. said. “Before I went to Ford, there was no union at the time, and it was always … no vacation, no sick time, no representation.
“Somebody fought for me, so I’m going to fight for someone else.”
Land, vice president of the Oberlin chapter of the NAACP, stood alongside other protesters who held signs that read, “I flipped burgers and couldn’t afford to eat one,” and, “I love McDonald’s workers.”
Parker McCurley, of Westlake, said he has sympathy for the employees, many of whom are earning minimum wage — $7.25 per hour.
McCurley said support from the public had been mixed.
“They’ve either been honking in support or just shaking their heads when they walked in to get a burger,” he said.
The nationwide protests were part of an effort that began about a year ago and is spearheaded by the Service Employees International Union, which has spent millions to bankroll local worker groups and organize publicity for the demonstrations. Protesters are calling for pay of $15 an hour, but the figure is seen more as a rallying point than a near-term possibility.
At a time when there’s growing national and international attention on economic disparities, advocacy groups and Democrats are hoping to build public support to raise the federal minimum wage of $7.25. That comes to about $15,000 a year for full-time work.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has promised a vote on the wage hike by the end of the year. But the measure is not expected to gain traction in the House, where Republican leaders oppose it.
On Thursday, crowds gathered outside restaurants in cities including Boston; Lakewood, Calif.; Phoenix; Washington, D.C.; and Charlotte, N.C., where protesters walked into a Burger King but didn’t stop customers from getting their food.
Julius Waters, a 29-year-old McDonald’s maintenance worker who was among protesters outside a McDonald’s in Detroit, said it’s hard making ends meet on his wage of $7.40 an hour.
“I need a better wage for myself, because, right now, I’m relying on aid, and $7.40 is not able to help me maintain taking care of my son. I’m a single parent,” Waters said.