Phoenix Protesters Demand Higher Fast Food Wages

August 29, 2013

Protesters in Phoenix Thursday joined groups in dozens of other cities calling for higher fast food wages.

band A mariachi band plays as protesters hold up signs demanding higher wages for fast food workers in Central Phoenix Thursday. Appropriately enough, the protest was held in front of a McDonald's - and across the street from a Church's Chicken. (Photo by Stina Sieg-KJZZ)

Many demonstrators showed up, but the turnout of fast food workers was much lower.

A mariachi band played and dozens chanted outside a central Phoenix McDonald’s. The group held signs demanding a wage of $15 an hour and urged motorists to honk in support.

But this was not a group of fast food employees. They were protestors and activists.

Edward Celaya was the only fast food worker there. He has been at Del Taco five years. Celaya makes $7.80 an hour.

“We struggle, from paycheck to paycheck,” Celaya said. “I can’t afford beds for my daughters. I can’t afford a bed for myself. I’m always behind on rent.”

Celaya Edward Celaya was the only fast-food worker who showed up at the protest, though he was joined by dozens of activists. He said he was there to stand up for himself - and all the other workers who were too frightened to show up. He makes $7.80 an hour at Del Taco, where he's been employed for five years. (Photo by Stina Sieg-KJZZ)

This was the first such demonstration in Phoenix, but walkouts by fast food workers have taken place across the country for months.

It is covered extensively by media, but a National Restaurant Association spokeswoman said this movement could backfire. She said higher wages could lead to less jobs and more automation. For most employees, she added, fast food is a training ground, not a career.

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