Business & Real Estate

Demanding $15 hourly wages, protesters rally at Sacramento fast-food, retail outlets

Santiago Magaña carries a McDonald’s flag with an X on it at a McDonald’s on 30th Street in Sacramento as union workers and supporters joined others across the country fighting for $15-per-hour wages and union rights.
Santiago Magaña carries a McDonald’s flag with an X on it at a McDonald’s on 30th Street in Sacramento as union workers and supporters joined others across the country fighting for $15-per-hour wages and union rights. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Demonstrators demanding higher wages and the right to unionize staged three protests Thursday at fast-food restaurants and a retail outlet in Sacramento, part of a nationwide wave of protests organized by labor groups and others.

Around 8 a.m., about 100 fast-food workers and their supporters entered the Dollar Tree at 3308 Arden Way, where organizers said they attempted to present the store manager with an unfair labor practice complaint. From there, the group walked to a nearby McDonald’s near Arden Way and Watt Avenue, but store managers prevented the group from entering the restaurant.

Miguel Vela, 17, who works at a Pocket-area McDonald’s, spoke in favor of the demonstration, calling McDonald’s a stepping stone on the way to getting a college degree.

“We are here to get our voice heard,” he said. “I need money for college and a car. I make $9 an hour and get 12 hours a week.”

While demonstrators chanted outside, customers continued eating their breakfast. The drive-thru was blocked for about 10 minutes, momentarily preventing customer Shane Crimmins, a small-business owner, from getting breakfast.

“What you are doing right now is so wrong,” he told one demonstrator. “You are hurting the little guy. You are hurting the franchise owner.”

He explained that the workers will only hasten the move toward automated jobs.

Two years ago, about 200 New York City fast-food workers walked off their jobs, demanding a hike in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Since then, supporters rallying behind the “Fight for $15” campaign, have held demonstrations outside chain restaurants and other businesses, urging workers inside to join a strike against their employers.

“The fight for a living wage is crucial for the survival of the middle class in America,” said Jefferson McGee of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment in Sacramento.

Nolan Ruiz, franchise owner of the McDonald’s where the demonstration occurred Thursday, said in a statement that McDonald’s respects the right to peaceful protest. He noted that his franchise has provided advancement, training and development.

“In my restaurants, wages are set according to local and federal laws, the competitive marketplace and job level,” Ruiz said. “We believe that any minimum-wage increase should be implemented over time so that the impact on owners of small and medium-sized businesses is manageable and feasible.”

At noon, an estimated 350 protesters gathered in a peaceful protest outside a McDonald’s at 3006 K St., some carrying signs reading “Stop Poverty Wages Not Lovin’ It.” They were supported by labor groups including SEIU Local 1000 and the Sacramento Central Labor Council.

Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

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