Fast-food workers in St. Louis, dozens of other cities plan walkouts today

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by CNN

KMOV.com

Posted on December 5, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 7:00 PM

Fast food protests aren't going away.

Organizers say fast food restaurant workers in St. Louis and 99 other U.S. cities will walk off the job Thursday, as part of a continuing push to raise wages above $15 an hour in the industry and secure the right to unionize.

"Median pay for fast food workers is $9 an hour or $18,720 a year, well below the Census Bureau's poverty line of about $23,000 for a family of four," reports CNN's Alison Kosik.

Related: Fast-food workers cost Missouri taxpayers $150 million annually, study shows

The movement began with a small walkout in New York City last year and has since gathered momentum. Strikes this past August drew fast food workers in 60 cities, organizers said.

The National Restaurant Association contends that the demonstrations are a "coordinated PR campaign engineered by national labor groups," and that "relatively few restaurant workers have participated" in past demonstrations.

A McDonald's spokeswoman said the events planned for Thursday "are not strikes," and consist only of outside groups "traveling to McDonald's and other outlets to stage rallies."

Industry officials have criticized the campaign, claiming increased starting wages will hold back job growth and increase prices.

The effort has drawn support from the Service Employees International Union, one of the country's largest, as well as activist groups. A MoveOn.org petition that has drawn nearly 50,000 online signatures calls on industry leaders "to pay your workers $15 an hour so they can make ends meet and Americans can stop paying for the hidden costs of poverty wages."

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