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Hundreds of St. Louis Fast Food Workers to Strike

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McDonald’s workers strike in St. Louis County. (KMOX/Allison Blood)

McDonald’s workers strike in St. Louis County. (KMOX/Allison Blood)

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – It started with Jimmy John’s, but now workers from more than 30 popular fast food chains in St. Louis plan to walk off the job pushing for higher wages and the right to form a union without retaliation.

Workers at a corporate-owned Northside McDonald’s on west Florissant Avenue walked off their jobs Wednesday at 3:45 p.m.

On Thursday more than 100 employees from major national brands like Panera, Chipotle, Jack in the Box, Wendy’s, Hardee’s, and Domino’s will follow with walkouts. Specific locations will be released later today, according to St. Louis Organizing Committee.

Organizers say workers can not afford basic necessities like food, clothing, and rent on $7.35 an hour.

According to Missouri Women’s Council, the Self-Sufficiency Standard for an adult with one child living in St. Louis County is $14.85 per hour working full time with benefits, in St. Louis City $14.93. (Scroll down to page 15 to see the Self-Sufficiency Standard for other counties in Missouri. Statistics are from 2007.)

St. Louis fast food workers are calling for a wage of $15 an hour. Missouri’s minimum wage is $7.35 an hour.

The strikes Wednesday and Thursday come just weeks after hundreds of fast food and retail workers went on strike in Chicago and hundreds more walked off their jobs in New York City.

Fast food workers at the Jimmy John's in Soulard go on strike, saying the can't survive on $7.35 an hour. (KMOX/Kevin Killeen)

Fast food workers at the Jimmy John’s in Soulard go on strike, saying the can’t survive on $7.35 an hour. (KMOX/Kevin Killeen)

Shortly before lunch time Wednesday fast food workers at the Jimmy John’s in Soulard stopped making sandwiches and picked up signs in protest.

“We’re not asking for the moon, we are asking for what these multi-billion dollar corporations can afford to pay,” Rev. Martin Rafanan, co-chairman of the Missouri Jobs with Justice workers’ rights board for St. Louis said.

A group of about 40 protesters joined the Jimmy John’s workers held signs and chanted, “We can’t survive on $7.35,” and “We need change, and we don’t mean pennies.”

Rafana told KMOX the notion that an average fast food worker is a teenager is wrong. “The average age of a woman in the fast food industry is 32 years old, for all workers 28.”

When asked how the wage increase would affect consumers buying lunch Rafana asked, “Would you mind paying 25 cents more for your number two so that somebody can have a fare wage and be able to take care of their family?”

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