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December 5, 2013

Protesters demand higher wages

NEW YORK — Fast-food workers and labor organizers marched, waved signs and chanted in cities across the country Thursday in a push for higher wages.

Organizers say employees planned to forgo work in 100 cities, with rallies set for another 100 cities. But by late afternoon, it was unclear what the actual turnout was or how many of the participants were workers. At targeted restaurants, the disruptions seemed minimal or temporary.

The protests are part of an effort that began about a year ago and is spearheaded by the Service Employees International Union. Protesters are calling for pay of $15 an hour, but the figure is seen more as a rallying point.

At a time when there’s growing national and international attention on economic disparities, advocacy groups and Democrats are hoping to build public support to raise the federal minimum wage of $7.25. That comes to about $15,000 a year for full-time work.

On Thursday, crowds gathered outside restaurants in cities including Boston, Lakewood, Calif., Phoenix, Washington, D.C., and Charlotte, N.C., where protesters walked into a Burger King.

In Detroit, about 50 demonstrators turned out for a pre-dawn rally in front of a McDonald’s. A few employees said they weren’t working, but a manager and other employees kept the restaurant open.

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