(Memphis) Fast food workers hung up their headsets and aprons Thursday, grabbed signs and hit the streets of Memphis and around the country.
They are demanding more money from their employers, McDonalds, Taco Bell Church’s Chicken, Subway and Krystal’s.
“We can’t survive on $7.25,” shouted the crowd.
Latoya Gems says she says lives paycheck to paycheck, “I’m a single parent of three, it’s hard."
Latoya’s is scheduled to work tonight at the very McDonald's on Union she’s picketing.
She doesn't plan to show up.
Despite needing the money, she wants McDonald's to double her pay to 15 dollars an hour.
“Latoya, what will this $15 mean to you and your family?” asked Elise Preston with News Channel 3.
“Oh wow, It would definitely help. I wouldn’t have to depend on government assistance,” said Gems.
Currently, the median pay for the fast food workers across the country is just over $9 an hour, or about $18,500 a year.
The workers say $15 is a little steep, especially when you consider many Mid-South companies don’t pay that much.
But they are hoping by going so high, they will be able to meet with the companies somewhere in the middle.
The campaign, organized by a coalition of labor, community and clergy groups called Fast Food Forward, has been building momentum since last November, when the protests first hit the national spotlight.
Not everyone who raised their voice Thursday worked at a fast food joint.
Reverend Herbert Lester with Asbury United Methodist Church came out in the heat to support, “It’s a justice issue. Billion dollar companies make money on the backs of workers without paying them a livable wage."
Lester believes larger paychecks wouldn’t just benefit the 11,000 plus fast food workers in Memphis, “When you broaden the tax base, everybody wins."
Latoya says it’s great if she can spark a social change, but her focus is just surviving, “I’m working overnight right now, because I can’t afford child care."
Workers are also protesting for a union to help them fight what they call unfair labor practices.
News Channel 3 called the corporate offices of the fast food companies; so far no one has returned our calls.
Restaurants say higher wages would hit smaller companies the hardest and force hikes in prices.