Brooklyn, Manhattan fast-food workers hit streets to demand living wage

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Stacey Sager reports from a protest outside a McDonald's in Lower Manhattan. (WABC)

Workers at fast-food restaurants began picketing Thursday morning to bring attention to their need for a living wage.

"Shut it down" was the chant as about 100 protesters filed in to a Burger King on Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn, demanding higher wages and a union for fast food workers.

At a McDonald's in Lower Manhattan, demonstrators with their hands up also appeared to be taking their lead from protests about the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases.

"$8.75, 40 hours a week, pays two-thirds of my rent," Wendy's employee Rebecca Cornick said. "The other third, I just wing it. Side jobs, or my family will support me."

Mayor Bill de Blasio has already raised minimum wage for some workers at companies with large city subsidies, but not all of them, and these workers are taking their fight to Albany.

They were just two of many protests nationwide, part of an ongoing attempt to get state lawmakers to raise the minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour, nearly double what it is now.

"It's hard, and I'm only making $8 an hour," KFC worker Naquasia Legrand said. "Working maybe 15 to 20 hours a week, that's not enough for a person trying to help their family."

The bottom line, they say, is that their wages are certainly not enough to be comfortable, and that it's barely enough to survive.

"Basically, you know, I make like $180 a week," McDonald's employee Jorel Ware said. "And I have to decide whether I want to pay my phone bill or buy a MetroCard or put food on the table. And I shouldn't have to decipher what i'm going to do on a weekly basis."

Thursday marks the largest protest to date, with workers from 190 U.S. cities participating.

Employees of McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, KFC and other restaurants were joined by baggage handlers, skycaps, wheelchair attendants and aircraft cleaners from LaGuardia and Kennedy airports, who are demanding similar concessions.

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