Joining movement for higher wages, some Philly fast-food workers go on strike


Workers took a break from flipping burgers, bagging donuts and cooking french fries in Philadelphia Thursday to take part in an international movement for better wages.

About 150 people, including 30 striking Philly fast-food workers, gathered outside a Center City McDonald’s.

The fast-food employees and their supporters marched down Broad Street to the McDonald’s at Broad and Arch to call for higher wages.

Dunkin’ Donuts employee Crystal Lopez of North Philadelphia admitted she was nervous about going on strike.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“I’m trying to fight for 15 [dollars an hour] and a union because $7.45 is not enough. It’s very low,” she said. “My mother is very sick.”

What she earns is not enough to help support her ill mother and her 11-year old brother, Lopez said. She said her brother already wants to work because he hears her mother crying at night about struggling  to pay the bills.

North Philadelphia resident Amir Payne said he needs to earn more than $7.25 an hour he’s paid at Dunkin’ Donuts.

“When we get to a certain point, you know, enough is enough,” he said. “And when you do things like this and set together a union, things can change.”

Payne, 21, works a second job as a teacher. If he made $15 an hour, Payne said, he would be able to move out of his family’s home.

On his way out of the McDonald’s, unemployed North Philadelphia resident Wayne Roach said he supports the cause. He said lost his job as a truck driver a few years ago.

“The owners can make billions, and the cost of living? You can’t live off of $7 an hour,” said Roach, who lost his job as a truck driver a few years ago. “That is ridiculous in this day and time. Everybody gets a lift up if they’re making an honest wage.”

Striking fast-food workers in 150 cities across the country and the world were trying to make that point Thursday. 

Shymara Jones, 20, has two jobs — including one at Popeye’s that pays less than $8 an hour. Between her two jobs, she works more than a full-time employee, but still struggles to support her 1-year-old son.

“There’s some times I have to call my mom and ask her to pay our phone bill,” Jones said. “I’m in school — so I have to pay tuition on my own, I have rent to pay, utilities, food, clothing. Sometimes I want to go out and look nice — I can’t go out.”

Jones, who lives in South Philadelphia, said some of her co-workers were too afraid to come to the rally.

The 30 striking fast-food workers in Philadelphia also included employees of McDonald’s and Burger King.


WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal