Members of a workers rights groups protested around the country Thursday, including some outside of fast food restaurants in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, in a call for an increase in the minimum wage. The event was organized by the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa and a union local representing workers in the service industries.
Union organizer Jim Jacobsen got the protest going outside a McDonalds in Iowa City and said it can be nearly impossible for food service workers to support a family.
“The average fast foot worker — front line fast food worker in Iowa — makes about eight dollars and 62-cents an hour” Jacobsen says. “That’s barely a living wage for one person. It’s about ten dollars less than somebody needs if they’re supporting a child.”
Jacobsen said there’s a misconception about the workers behind the counter. “It’s not teenagers who are working, in there, you go in there you will see,” Jacobsen says, “it’s retired people trying to make it on social security, people with families,” Jacobsen says.
The current minimum wage in Iowa is $7.25. U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, has introduced a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016. Bills for the 10-10 wage have not yet moved in the House, nor the Senate.