Washington: Fast-food workers and others in low-pay jobs have launched one-day strikes and protests across the United States demanding a USD 15 an hour minimum wage and union rights.
Organisers yesterday said workers at major chains like McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and Taco Bell walked off their jobs in more than 190 cities, from Los Angeles and Phoenix to Chicago, New York and Washington.
For the first time since fast-food workers began walkouts two years ago, they were joined by workers from convenience stores and markets in 24 cities, the Fight for USD 15 campaign said in a statement.
Employees in low-wage jobs and labour unions supporting them are pushing to raise the minimum hourly wage to USD 15 -- about double the current federal minimum of USD 7.25.
Workers say they are fed up with pay that does not come close to keeping them out of poverty and the threat of retaliation from employers hostile to them joining or forming unions.
"Every day I look my kids in the face and they realise we live in poverty. They are the reason I fight," Terrence Wise, a 35-year-old father of three who is paid USD 9.30 an hour at Burger King in Kansas City, Missouri, said in the statement.
At 10 major airports, baggage handlers, skycaps, wheelchair attendants and aircraft cleaners were demonstrating in support of the strikers, the organisers said.
And home-care workers, which launched the Home Care Fight for USD 15 in September, were protesting in more than two dozen cities from coast to coast, according to the Fight for USD 15 campaign.
The movement has grown since a few hundred fast-food workers went on strike in late November 2012 to push for a "living wage" of USD 15 an hour.
A year ago fast-food workers launched day-long labour strikes, and their outcry has increasingly resonated in national politics.
"Fast-food workers deserve a livable wage to keep families out of poverty. When they fight, I'm proud to fight alongside them," said Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democratic senator, in a tweet.
President Barack Obama has faced stiff Republican opposition in his push for an increase in the minimum wage to USD 10.10 to lift hundreds of thousands of people above the poverty line and reduce the widening income gap.
San Francisco and Seattle have adopted an local minimum wage standards of USD 15; the state of California raised its lowest pay rate by USD 1 to USD 9 an hour in July.
Yesterday, even McDonald's food-service workers under contract with the federal government went on strike at the restaurant in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington.