Protesters demand higher wages for fast-food workers - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Protesters demand higher wages for fast-food workers

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McDonalds in South Burlington needed to dish out more happy meals Thursday because certain people weren't Mc-loving it. More than 20 people gathered outside protesting for higher wages, benefits and better worker policies.

"As a member of the community and customer of McDonald's, we're asking the company to set up, it's the biggest company in fast food so it will set the trend," said Faried Munarsy, a volunteer with the Vermont Workers' Center.

Across the nation, people were standing up against low-wage fast-food jobs and policies that don't protect working families, demanding $15 per hour minimum wages and union recognition.

"Just because it's low skill doesn't mean it's not important," Munarsy said.

In Vermont, the minimum wage is $8.60 an hour, but this group says they're asking for the livable wage, which they say is closer to $17 an hour.

"We're all paying for it. I pay taxes. When McDonald's don't pay livable wage or give health care, we all end up paying for it in food stamps," Munarsy said.

The fry-o-lators weren't turned off in McDonald's for this demonstration because no one who works there participated, which McDonald's pointed out in a statement. Across the country, outside groups traveled to McDonald's to object. Here in South Burlington, members were from various work advocacy groups.

A calm protest still got police attention after someone called saying members of the group were in the road.

"The protest group was larger than what we anticipated. He called for officer assistance. We arrived and found a peaceful group protesting," South Burlington Police Sgt. Andrew Chaulk said.

Nationally, fast-food chains say they don't make decisions about wages for the independent franchises and say any move to raise entry-level pay would raise overall costs which would lead to higher menu prices.

McDonald's issued a statement Thursday saying it does offer employees competitive pay and benefits. It also said restaurants remained open Thursday and every day because of those employees.

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