Minimum wage conversation starts debate across the nation - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo fast-food employees weigh in on nationwide protests to raise minimum wage


The drive-thru at Waterloo's McDonald's was steady Thursday afternoon.
Among the patrons was Melissa Worell of Waterloo.

Worell has been employed at a local fast-food restaurant for almost four years, and although she makes more than minimum wage, she admits it's difficult to make ends meet between school and raising her four-year-old son.

"They should just give us a little bit," she said.  "You know, we're making barely anything in a hot kitchen making food for people who are on their lunch break while we're still stuck there."

Worell had no intention of protesting her wage like other fast-food employees in parts of the country during nationwide protests on Thursday, but she agrees fast-food workers should be paid more.

"Why am I any different than anyone else trying to make it?" she asked.

Other fast-food patrons agreed.

"I don't mind paying another dollar or whatever it's going to be for my item if it means somebody's making a decent amount of money for their job," said Andrew Arthur of Waterloo.
Arthur said he didn't think the nationwide demands to raise fast-food workers' incomes to $15 an hour was fair, but said they deserve more.

"I mean if that's their main income I think it needs to be a reasonable amount to live off of," he said.

Meanwhile, Burger King and McDonald's issued statements to KWWL in response to the nationwide strikes on Thursday.

McDonald's USA issued the following statement:

"The story promoted by the individuals organizing these events does not provide an accurate picture of what it means to work at McDonald's. We respect the strong relationship which exists among McDonald's, our independent operators, and the employees who work in McDonald's restaurants. Our restaurants remain open, with our dedicated employees providing strong service to our customers.

McDonald's aims to offer competitive pay and benefits to our employees. We provide training and professional development for all of those who wish to take advantage of those opportunities. Our history is full of examples of individuals who worked their first job with McDonald's and went on to successful careers both within and outside of McDonald's.

It will be business as usual for us. We respect our employees' rights to voice their opinions. Employees who participate in these activities and return to work are welcomed back and scheduled to work their regular shifts as usual. We value our employees' well-being and the contributions they make to our restaurants, and thank them for what they do each and every day.

McDonald's does not determine wages set by our more than 3,000 U.S. franchisees. At the restaurants run by McDonald's USA – less than 10 percent of the roughly 14,000 – we pay salaries that begin at minimum wage but range up from that figure depending on the job and employee's experience level."

Burger King issued the following statement:

"For decades, BURGER KING® restaurants have provided an entry point into the workforce for millions of Americans, including many of the system's franchisees who began their careers working at local BURGER KING® restaurants. Over 99% of all BURGER KING® restaurants in the United States are independently owned and operated by third party franchisees. As a corporation, we respect the rights of all workers; however, Burger King Corp. does not make hiring, firing or other employment-related decisions for our franchisees. During this time, customer service and quality will remain a top priority in all BURGER KING® restaurants.

Burger King Corp. and its franchisees support and invest in the thousands of restaurant team members across the system. BURGER KING® restaurants offer compensation and benefits that are consistent with the QSR industry. In addition, through the BURGER KING McLAMORE(SM) Foundation, all BURGER KING® employees and their families are eligible for college scholarships to encourage further growth and education."

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