Adults working full time at McDonald’s are “paid less per hour in real terms than the lowest paid US workers were half a century ago” when hundreds of thousands of people flooded into Washington, D.C., for the historic march for freedom and jobs for black Americans, The Guardian reports Thursday.

One of the marchers’ demands was a $1.25 to $2 raise in the hourly minimum wage, which today would mean that people who are making $8.37 would see an increase to $13.39. Some workers currently take home $800 to $1,000 a month, wages so low the government subsidizes their income with food stamps.

On Thursday, thousands of employees in 50 cities across the nation were expected to take part in a one-day demonstration to demand wages of $15 an hour and the right to join a union. Some workers are skipping their shifts and risking losing their jobs.

A broad coalition of unions, community organizers and church leaders support the workers. In some cases, members of those groups have successfully escorted striking and demonstrating employees who face discipline for their actions back into their workplaces.

Unions and poverty campaigners point out that low-wage fast food jobs are no longer entry-level positions for teenagers. Fast food is now one of the quickest-growing job sectors in the U.S., having replaced many of the positions lost during the recession. It is occupied by many family breadwinners.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Guardian:

Women make up two-thirds of workers in the fast-food industry, and the median age of a female worker is 32, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A quarter of fast-food workers are raising children, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Campaigners argue that, while wages remain low, profits at the big US chains, such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Domino’s and Papa John’s, are booming, reporting higher revenues and fatter operating margins than before the recession. McDonald’s, which has 1.8 million employees, made $5.46bn in profits in 2012, while Domino’s, with 34,000 employees made $112m the same year.

So far, the strikes have yielded few tangible results and critics say that while unemployment stays high and jobs are in high demand, employers have no incentive to increase wages.

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