Workers Seeking $15 Hourly Wage Set Strikes in 230 Cities

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The strikes and protests that began more than two years ago among workers at fast-food restaurants has expanded its scope, seeking to include low-wage workers in many fields to join in nationwide strikes and protests aimed at raising worker wages to $15 an hour. The job actions are set to take place tomorrow, April 14 (4/15), a symbolic gesture that plays on the sound of “for 15.”

Organizers expect job actions in more than 200 cities nationwide to attract 60,000 demonstrators, according to a report in The New York Times. Marches and rallies are also expected in more than 100 cities in 35 countries, according to a press release.

McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) has been a target of the workers since the job actions started. The company recently announced that it would boost the pay of workers in its company-operated stores to $9.90 an hour on July 1. By the end of next year McDonald’s expects average pay to be above $10 an hour. McDonald’s pay hike applies only to employees at the 1,500 company-operated stores; employees at the 13,000 franchised stores in the United States are not included.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), another long-time target of low-wage workers, said in February that it would raise wages for about 500,000 U.S. employees to at least $9.00 an hour in the first half of 2016, rising to an average of at least $10 an hour for current associates.

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Workers who have been picketing low-wage employers are not satisfied with the hike. In a press release following the McDonald’s announcement, a company worker said:

Because we joined together and stood up, McDonald’s was forced to raise pay. Still, this is too little to make a real difference, and covers only a fraction of workers. It’s a weak move for a company that made $5.6 billion in profits last year. We’re going to keep fighting until we win $15 and union rights for all fast-food workers and our families.

The New York Times reports that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has “quietly pumped $15 million into the movement, helping to hire dozens of organizers to rally fast-food workers nationwide.”

The larger threat, at least to McDonald’s and other franchise operators, is a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board that would force parent companies to share the responsibility for franchise employees’ wages and treatment.