Fast food workers, labor advocates bring push for higher wages to Atlanta

'I am here to fight for my right to live, for my paycheck'


  • Joeff Davis
  • Demonstrators jam into the lobby of the Burger King located at Atlanta Student Movement Boulevard and Northside

Metro Atlanta fast food employees yesterday joined workers and labor activists in an estimated 100 cities across the country and protested outside restaurants to call for higher pay and the right to join unions without retaliation.

The demonstrations were part of a movement sparked around one year ago after fast food workers, some of whom were mobilized by labor unions, demanded a $15 minimum wage. Thousands of workers were expected to make similar demands yesterday at fast food locations across the country, including Atlanta.

Denethia Haynes, a Krystal's cashier who lives in Morrow and who planned to protest, told CL on Wednesday that she earns $7.35 an hour, works the night shift, and can't afford to move out of her parents' house.

"Having a union would give us a say in our work and give us a fair chance to have more money in our pockets," says Haynes. "It shows we are for real...I think we all want the same things. We want a better future for our kids. Not just to get by like we're doing now.

"We may be just starting out but we're growing stronger," she says. "What matters is even if you start with one and add more, we're making noise.

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  • Joeff Davis
  • "I am here to fight for my right to live," said Antoine, who's worked as a cook at Long John SIlver's for seven years and makes $7.50 an hour.

Fast food workers and labor advocates, including Atlanta Jobs with Justice, visited a Krystal on Moreland Avenue in the morning, where protesters shut down a drive-thru. Later in the afternoon they protested at the Burger King location at Northside Drive and Atlanta Student Movement Boulevard. There, they effectively shut down the restaurant. Workers were unable to serve food or take orders as the crowd packed into the area in front of the counter, chanted, and made speeches in support of fast food workers earning larger paychecks.

Lawmakers who attended the demonstrations included state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta, and state Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta. State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, who protested at the afternoon Burger King event, connected the building of the proposed Atlanta Falcons stadium, which will be constructed near the fast food restaurant, to the fast food workers struggle,

"They want to give $500 million to Arthur Blank and they tell us that $7.25 for fast food workers is OK," Fort said through a bullhorn while standing in front of the counter where people normally order Whoppers.

"I am here to fight for my right to live, for my paycheck," Antoine, a cook who's worked at Long John Silver's for seven years and makes $7.50 an hour, told CL at the end of the protest. "When you work to provide for your family you should not have to rely on food stamps to get by."

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