Denver fast food workers join call for higher wages

8:10 PM, Aug 29, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER - Dozens of fast food workers and supporters picketed at a pair of McDonald's locations in Denver on Thursday, echoing similar demonstrations around the country calling for significant wage increases.

They put down spatulas and picked up signs, demanding a better standard of living.

"We're barely staying above water," said Dakota Bosma, who works for a local McDonald's restaurant. "After awhile, that just drains on you. You shouldn't have to worry about having food on your table or clothes on your back."

The demonstrators argued that life shouldn't be that hard for someone who has a full-time job.

SOUND OFF: Should fast food workers make $15 per hour?

They don't merely want a raise: they want to "super-size" their pay, calling for at least $15 per hour.

"That would allow me to pay off all my bills and allow me to live my life worry-free," Bosma said.

The current Colorado minimum wage is $7.78 per hour, which amounts to $16,182. At $15 per hour, that would nearly double to $31,200 per year.

Could it actually work?

"We can pay that person more if all of us are willing to pay more for that flipped burger," University of Denver economist Mac Clouse said.

However, Clouse says, we aren't willing.

People who already make more than $15 an hour won't get raises and hence won't shell out a few bucks more for happy meals.

The striking workers counter that the golden arches have enough gold to share.

"They make billions of dollars every year. Right there, that tells me they've got more than enough to double our pay," Bosma said.

Indeed, McDonald's did turn a roughly $5.5 billion net profit over the past year, but most McDonald's workers don't actually work for McDonald's.

Most of the workers are paid by franchise owners, who also have to pay a cut of their sales to McDonald's.

Franchisees make a profit doing it, but enough to pay $15 per hour?

"Probably not," Clouse said. "Not to double all the cost, because we're looking at pretty much all their employees."

The strikes were disruptive, but they only hit two McDonalds for about an hour each.

Despite help from union groups, it was still plenty easy to get a fast food meal in Denver this day.

Organizers say there could be more to come.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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