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$15 an hour: A move toward justice

It’s a simple fact: McDonald’s does not pay me enough. I work hard, but it’s still a daily struggle to pay the bills and take care of my five-year-old son. That’s why I’m joining with other fast-food workers to stand up and speak out for $15 an hour and a voice on the job.

There has been a lot of talk recently about how much fast-food workers should earn. The majority of Americans and our president agree: No one who works hard every day should live in poverty. I want to provide my son with the quality of life that he deserves and that so many children get to enjoy.

With the low wages that McDonald’s pays me, that’s nearly impossible. To make matters worse – and this may surprise you – fast-food companies often rob workers of their hard-earned wages. They may not be stealing money directly out of our wallets, but they might as well be. Fast-food companies will often avoid paying us for all the hours we work, forcing us to work off the clock, or not paying us for overtime. For workers already struggling to get by, these lost dollars make a bad situation worse.

Like anyone else, I would prefer to spend holidays with my family, but I often work on those days because of the promise of time and a half pay. Just this past holiday season, I worked on Thanksgiving Day, not only to help out, but also because it would have meant a little extra money in my pocket. My boss told me that I would receive holiday pay, but it was never reflected in my paycheck. Not only did I not receive the pay I was promised, but I worked three more hours than I was scheduled for and missed out on helping my family cook Thanksgiving dinner.

And I’m not the only one in this situation. Right now, workers at my McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants across the country are routinely denied overtime pay and are made to work off the clock.

A survey last year by Anzalone Research found that 84 percent of fast-food workers have been victims of wage theft. It’s an industry-wide problem, one so common that some could mistake it as just another aspect of working in fast food. But wage theft isn’t just the practice of a few bad managers; it’s a fundamental part of how these corporations operate. Despite making billions in profits, companies like McDonald’s and Burger King try to squeeze every penny out of workers and restaurants.

On Tues., March 18, I braved the cold with other fast-food workers and community supporters to bring this mistreatment to light. We took to the streets to say “No More” – it is time for us to get paid what we are owed for our hard work.

It’s wrong when corporations make profits by exploiting their workers, but those at the top believe the only way to stay profitable is to not pay employees for every hour they work.

That’s why we’re fighting for $15 an hour, and the right to form a union without retaliation. With a $15 wage, I’d have enough money to pay my bills and give my son the things that others take for granted. And it’s not just about my family. It’s about the many families across the country struggling to get by. That’s why I’m standing up, and speaking out.

This is about making our families, our communities, and our entire economy stronger. It’s time to hold the fast-food industry accountable and make sure that companies like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s pay workers every penny that we earn.

It’s time for workers to get the justice they deserve.