Some fast food restaurant workers in Memphis walked out Monday to call for raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, reports WREG News Channel 3.
Similar Labor Day protests were held across the country.
The current federal minimum wage is $7.25. In Tennessee, the state minimum wage is the same as the current federal minimum wage.
In Memphis, a group in front of the McDonald’s on Poplar Avenue waved signs at 6 a.m. reading, “Show me $15 & a union” and “#Fightfor15.” There group included workers from McDonald’s, KFC, Wendy’s and Church’s Chicken.
The Memphis workers were joined by local Black Lives Matter activists, representatives with Workers Interfaith Network, IBEW and the Copper Coalition, and state Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis). The group later moved to the Taco Bell at Poplar and Belvedere, and then up Evergreen to Trinity United Methodist Church, which was hosting a picnic.
— Show Me $15 (@Show_Me15) September 5, 2017
“Memphis workers in the Fight for $15 stressed their demand not just for $15 an hour, but for union rights in order to fix the economic and political systems in the U.S. that are rigged to benefit big corporations over working people,” protest organizers said in a news release.
A report published last year by The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., said around seven million full-time jobs would be cut if the minimum wage were raised to $15 because of higher labor costs. Many workers with fewer skills would be unemployable, and the hike would disproportionately affect states with lower living costs, the report said.
“A $15-per-hour minimum wage was once a fringe idea,” said the report by James Sherk, a research fellow in labor economics. “Politicians of every ideological stripe agreed that raising starting wages that high would eliminate too many job opportunities. Nonetheless, recent, union-backed campaigns have pushed the idea into the mainstream.”
A handful of states and cities have been moving toward implementing a $15 per hour minimum wage. A major study released in June on Seattle’s efforts to incrementally raise the minimum wage found that employers were putting off new hiring, reducing hours or letting workers go. The study was conducted by economists at the University of Washington and was commissioned by the city.