ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Demonstrators walked in the doors and sat down in front of the counter of a McDonald’s, chanting “save our raise,” as they protested Monday’s looming rollback of the city’s $10 minimum wage to the state level of $7.70 an hour.
Kitchen workers could be seen nodding their heads in approval, and cashiers leaned forward so customers could shout their orders in their ears, as the crowd grew louder, chanting, “If we don’t get it, shut it down.”
The sit-in marks the first instance in a months-long campaign by fast-food workers, in which demonstrators have left the sidewalk and gone inside a restaurant to disrupt the flow of business.
Customers Edward and Joyce Griffin, at the counter with their grand children, didn’t seem to mind.
“Well, I guess they know what they want,” Edward said. “Everybody wants to get paid.”
His wife agreed.
“Well, they have to fight for it,” Joyce said, “and that’s what they’re doing. They may have families to feed, babies to feed, bills to pay.”
Police arrived about five minutes after the sit-in began, half a dozen of them, striding into the McDonald’s calmly in blue shirts. A female officer raised her hands to signal the crowd’s attention, and the protesters paused to listen.
“All right, you guys, I’m asking you to step outside,” she said. “Can you all please step outside on the side walk. You can all still be together out there.”
Without delay, the protesters rose to their feet and walked peacefully outside, chanting “We’ll be back, We’ll be back.”
Outside the rally continued with Taco Bell worker Jennice Mackey, 25, saying the rollback of the $10 minimum wage will be a shock to her budget.
“The cost of living is going up every day,” Mackey said.
Steak ‘n Shake worker Tesia Akins, 29, was also upset with the approaching wage cut.
“Man, I think its wrong,” Akins said. “Why would y’all do that? Why would you be Indian Givers and give us $10 and take it back from us?”
The Missouri legislature passed a bill earlier this year prohibiting cities from enacting their own minimum wages.
Gov. Eric Greitens signed the bill into law, arguing it’s bad for the state’s economy to have “uneven pockets” of varying minimum wages.
Many restaurants in the city of St. Louis have promised to maintain the $10 minimum wage, despite the new state law.
Protesters are hoping fast-food chains will voluntarily join the list and keep the higher wage in place.