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Up to 100 protesters gathered downtown this morning in support of “Fight for 15,” a nationwide one-day strike by fast food workers in 35 cities calling for a $15 minimum wage and the right to join unions without employer retaliation.

“Everybody that works here has kids to support,” said Debra Flores, a striker who works at the Wendy’s restaurant on the corner of First and Broadway where the crowd convened. She said she also works a second job at a hookah lounge. “We need to make enough money to take care of our families and pay bills, and that can’t happen on minimum wage.”

Clare Crawford, president and executive director of the Center on Policy Initiatives, said that employers were unrealistic when denying the impact low wages had on workers’ lives, pointing to a controversial personal budget proposal released by McDonald’s recently suggesting that workers should have two nearly full-time jobs and budget only $600 per month for rent (the actual average in San Diego is closer to $1300, Crawford says) in order to survive on minimum wage.

“If you’re a single parent with one child, you need to earn between $21 and $26 an hour in order to afford the basic costs of living here in San Diego,” Crawford said. “These workers aren’t making anywhere near that, and they’re struggling.”

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Several union groups, the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and representatives of the local taxi industry, which faces its own wage struggles were present offering support.

“People are still going to struggle because of the high cost of living in San Diego,” said labor leader Richard Barrera, but “if we paid workers a living wage, we would create 40,000 jobs. Why is that? Because workers would actually have enough money to pay their bills, to put money back into the local economy, to create jobs.”

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Comments

mridolf Aug. 29, 2013 @ 1:56 p.m.

How many people out there moved to San Diego expecting to live on a minimum wage job?

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David Dodd Aug. 29, 2013 @ 2:04 p.m.

I was hoping that they would be protesting in Chula Vista, had my camera and voice recorder at the ready. Alas. Apparently, minimum wage is fine here.

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John Kitchin Sept. 1, 2013 @ 9:50 p.m.

It is enough, if you live in Tijuana, where I am posting this right now.

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rosijoni Aug. 30, 2013 @ 8:12 a.m.

I was listening to an LA radio station yesterday afternoon while driving my car. Their reporter went out to one of the protests; there were 17 people there protesting. They had wristbands on. It turned out to be this: out of the 17 people there, only ONE was a fast-food worker. The others are in unions already, had been given wristbands. One was for attending, and the other was for the free lunch they had been promised if they attended and protested. Looking at the top picture here, most of these people have one the same tee shirt. Hmmmm.....makes one wonder. Are THESE fast-food workers or union members doing their bosses a favor and showing up here? The unions, after all, are hungry for more members.

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John Kitchin Sept. 1, 2013 @ 9:52 p.m.

The Minimum Wage in Australia is $16.50 US per hour, prices for everything including Fast Food are lower, and nobody is talking about labor unions! Labor union employees do not work for Minimum Wage, anyway.

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