UPDATE 7-Protesters rally for higher U.S. fast-food wages, union rights

Tue Nov 10, 2015 6:44pm EST
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(Adds Los Angeles protests, comment from McDonald's)

By Laila Kearney

NEW YORK Nov 10 (Reuters) - Thousands of protesters took to the streets across the U.S. on Tuesday to demand a $15-an-hour minimum wage and union rights for fast food workers, a campaign intended to attract support from national political candidates ahead of the 2016 elections.

Organizers said thousands of low-wage workers walked off their jobs in some 270 cities across the country to take part in the "Fight for $15" campaign, and vowed that demonstrators would descend on the Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee on Tuesday evening.

Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in New York, where they were joined by Mayor Bill DeBlasio, and some 500 marched through downtown Los Angeles. Events were also held in Detroit, Philadelphia and Minneapolis.

Leaders said at the outset that workers from McDonald's , Wendy's, Burger King , KFC and other restaurants would take part.

But Lisa McComb, a spokeswoman for McDonald's, said that only "a handful" of its employees took part in protests she called "staged events," and only three walked off their jobs.

"To date since these days of action have begun, this is the smallest actual McDonald's employee participation that we're aware of," McComb said. McDonald's is the world's biggest restaurant chain and a high-profile target of the marches.

In a move apparently timed to show solidarity with the movement, Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, both Democrats, hiked the minimum hourly wage to $15 for city and state government workers, respectively. The increases will be phased in over several years.   Continued...