Nightly News   |  December 05, 2013

Fast-food workers push for higher wages

Protesters in 130 cities demanded higher wages on Thursday. More than half of all fast-food workers rely on some form of public assistance. NBC’s Joe Fryer reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> by fast food workers in dozens of american cities demanding the federal minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour. our report from joe fryer in los angeles .

>> reporter: fast food workers walked off the job today pushing for the first federal minimum wage increase in four years. [ chanting ]

>> reporter: they braved frigid temps in denver --

>> we can't survive on $7.25!

>> reporter: and rainy weather in atlanta while protesters in other cities moved the chants inside.

>> catching like wildfire throughout the country. no one has seen this.

>> reporter: fanny velazquez skipped her shift. she lives with her parents and supports three children, about 25% of all fast food workers are raising kids.

>> sometimes they ask me, mom, can you buy me this and i'm like, i don't have enough money.

>> reporter: niga works at dunkin donuts and relies on some kind of public stance.

>> i get my paycheck and it's not enough. it's an insult.

>> reporter: mcdonald's employee simon rojas is a trained pharmacy tech but can't find a job in his field. at 23 years old, half of fast food workers today are his age or older.

>> i'm glad to have a job. $8 is not cutting it.

>> reporter: that wage generates a salary of barely $17,000 a year. as for today's protesters many weren't fast food workers. some were bussed in by labor groups drawing criticism.

>> the activities are made for tv protests.

>> reporter: the fast food industry argues a $15 wage is too high.

>> prices would have to go up. less jobs would be created.

>> reporter: in a statement mcdonald's says we respect right to voice an opinion. some people would pay more to help workers.

>> they deserve it.

>> reporter: as this man pull aid way he said $15 might be too much. a sign this fight may not be fast.