Dozens of fast-food workers and supporters marched outside a South Los Angeles Burger King at 6 a.m., Thursday chanting their demand for a $15-an-hour minimum wage.
Holding signs with slogans such as “Burgers and Lies,” “Yo Quiero $15,” and “Lovin’ a Living Wage,” they began moving into formation while the sky was still dark, headlights speeding by on the 110 Freeway behind the restaurant in the Broadway-Manchester neighborhood.
As the sun slowly rose and honks from passing passing cars increased, the employees and protest organizers from the Service Employees International Union, many decked out in “Fight For 15” T-shirts, snaked around the corner at Broadway and Century Boulevard.
Inside the restaurant, several workers polished windows and milled behind the counter. A lone car passed through the drive-thru.
The protest and others in Los Angeles on Thursday are part of a nationwide labor action expected to bring picketers out in dozens of cities in support of higher wages for fast-food warkers.
[Updated, 8:20 a.m. PDT, Aug. 29: The NPD Group, a research firm, said that the restaurant industry has lost out on 1.76 billion visits since 2008 because “consumers have remained cost conscious and are accustomed to eating at home.”
Traffic to fast-food restaurants for the year ended June 2013 was up 1% from the previous 12-month period, according to NPD. But that increase is compared to an an 8% surge for the fast casual segment, which includes Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread.
In a statement Thursday, the National Retail Federation said that the protests constituted “yet more theater orchestrated by organized labor, for organized labor.”
“It is not in the best interest of any business to spend money to recruit, train and then penalize employees,” said NRF Senior Vice President Bill Thorne. “Retail and restaurant companies pay competitive wages and many offer additional benefits.”
He added that many managers in such firms started out as part-time or hourly employees.]