Fast-food workers strike, demand $15 per hour and a union

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Fast-food workers throughout Phoenix and across the country are demonstrating today, saying they deserve more than minimum wage. Not only do they want a livable wage, pushing for $15 per hour, they also want better working conditions and the right to unionize.

Police arrested dozens of people in Detroit and Time Square in New York, but here in Phoenix, the gatherings were peaceful. Although police were on hand at the McDonald's at 24th Street and Osborn Road Thursday morning, they did not arrest anybody.

"I'm here because I want better wages, better working conditions," Cindy Enriquez, a McDonald's employee, told 3TV's Tess Rafols. "I want respect. I see my co-workers struggle to pay rent, and it's not fair, so we're going to do whatever it takes."

Cindy has worked at the McDonald's where the strikers gathered for two years. She makes $8.40 an hour.

"It's not enough," she said.

Minimum wage in Arizona is $7.90. The federal minimum wage is $7.25.

Employees want to remind people that they are working parents, not teenagers looking to make money over the summer.

A second, much larger demonstration was planned for another location at noon. Several hundred fast-food employees are expected, including workers from Tucson. Organizers say the workers gathering at noon and ready to be arrested should it come to that.

"I'm not afraid of the retaliation because I'm fighting for something I believe in, and I will stand very strong on it," Terrence Busby, who also works at McDonald's, told Rafols. "We deserve more. We do a lot of hard work. … We do the hard work while they just sit around and just watch."

The fight for $15 an hour and the right to unionize without retaliation has been going on for nearly two years, starting when 200 fast-food employees walked off their jobs in New York City in November 2012. Since then, workers in more than 150 cities have taken up what has become a nationwide movement known as the "Fight for $15."