After the general counsel for National Labor Relations Board said this week fast-food chain McDonald’s could be held liable along with its franchises for any labor violations, a demonstration was held outside one Little Rock restaurant on Friday.
Members of a local union and others chanted outside the McDonalds near the intersection of University and Markham, appreciating some supportive honks. The demonstrators echoed a nationwide movement among fast-food workers to raise their minimum pay to 15 dollars an hour. “We Can’t Survive off of Seven-Twenty Five” they shouted, referring to the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr, which many fast food employees make.
37-year old Jay Harris, a local McDonald’s employee, elaborated on how the low wages barely allow one to pay the bills.
“If you’ve got a 600 dollar house note and a light, water and gas and plus you got children. And you’re making about 750 [dollars] a month. That’s what makes it difficult to survive right there,” he said.
Fast-food work is not easy, said Toney Orr, an organizer of the event for United Labor Unions Local 100.
“It’s not an easy job. You know a lot of people think [fast food workers] just stand there and take an order. It’s a lot. There’s so many things you have to do at one time. You’re on your feet all day,” he said.
While the day’s message among the 15 or so protestors was unified and forceful, not all bystanders agreed with it, or stood silently by. Dave Cornwell, who worked nearby and was picking up lunch at the time, argued that workers tend to be paid low wages because they may have few skills.
"It’s about skills you bring to the employer,” he said. “And if you don’t have them, why should they pay you what you aren’t worth?”
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t workers striving toward better opportunities. When KUAR asked if management with the McDonalds on University Avenue cared to comment on the demonstrators’ message of higher pay, 23-year old employee Cosha Little walked out. “My plans for the future is to go to hair school and try to own my own beauty salon,” she said. “That’s what I’ve been wanting to do all my life.” Little said she’d be attending school this September.
What did she think about 15 dollars an hour?
“It’s a great thing...it’s really good.”
Organizers of the demonstration also latched on to the cause of raising the federal and state minimum wages and they promise more protests at area fast food restaurants in the coming months.