Demanding an increase in the minimum wage, protesters stopped traffic in Center City Philadelphia Thursday. Police took away demonstrators who sat down and refused to move out of the street at Broad and Arch streets.
West Philadelphian Olivia Smith Bey works at the McDonald’s at Broad and Girard and makes just over $7.50 an hour.
“Our minimum wage should go up so we can at least afford the things that we need and want and take care of our children,” she said.
Joining in the protest, North Philadelphia resident Terrell Wesley said the $7.25 rate he’s paid at McDonald’s just isn’t enough.
“We work hard in there, we deserve a little more,” Wesley said. “We ain’t tryin’ to go out and … buy mansions and all that, but we just need a little more.”
Protesters are calling for a minimum wage of $15 an hour and the right to unionize. The Center City rally, held outside a McDonald’s, was one of many across the country.
While most of those rallying for changes were fast-food workers, others offered their support. From a social justice standpoint, they said they believe in a minimum wage hike.
Chester County resident Michael Whitehead took a day off work without pay to join the fast-food workers protesting in Philadelphia.
“I think that full-time workers deserve a living wage as does anyone in the richest country in the world,” he said. Whitehead said he earns more than minimum wage and is “fortunate enough to be well paid.”
“If everyone earned a livable wage in the United States, the standard of living of all of us would be much higher,” he said. “But more than that, it’s a human right to earn decent wage in the richest country in the world.”
Councilman Wilson Goode also joined the rally.
“This is part of a national movement that I’m already involved in,” Goode said. “I actually flew out to Seattle to help push for their law there.”
Alisha Lee of North Philadelphia and has worked at a Bensalem McDonald’s for five years. She makes less than $10 an hour.
“I have rent, I got a cell phone bill, I got transportation to get back and forth from Philly to Bensalem,” she said, listing her expenses. “It’s just ridiculous.”
Lee said while she supports the effort to increase the minimum wage, she wasn’t prepared to be arrested for the effort.