Fast-food workers rallied in New York and other cities Tuesday, demanding job protections and above all higher pay. It was the first step in a year-long campaign to mobilize low-wage workers in next year's presidential election. NY1's Michael Herzenberg has the story.
Hundreds of activists blocked traffic on 125th Street for a few minutes Tuesday morning, demanding higher wages and union protections for fast food workers.
The mother of Eric Garner was among them. He was the Staten Island man who died two summers ago while being arrested.
"It's all combined," said Gwen Carr.
Members of the Black Lives Matter movement joined the labor union known as 32BJ SEIU and advocacy groups rallying in front of a McDonalds.
"We are the ones who need the $15 more than some others," Carr said. "We'll need at least $15.''
Governor Cuomo's administration already has mandated pay of $15 an hour for fast-food workers — which will be phased in over three years in the city, and six years across the rest of the state.
The protest in New York is part of a national day of action pushing for federal action on fast-food workers' pay.
"I remember how many people said $15 an hour was out of reach that you were just dreamers," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "You were trying to do something that couldn't be done. But you know what you did you changed things."
"Right now we got political clout," said one striking worker. "And we fighting for equal rights and justice."
Despite the protests and calls for a fast-food workers strike, it was business as usual at most fast-food outlets Tuesday, and there was no shortage of opinions.
"They should be getting the raise," said one supporter. "Nobody can survive on $8.25 an hour anymore. Times have changed"
"Just get another job," said a detractor. "Do better for yourself. Go back to school. There are so many different outlets and sources you can go to."
This is not just about fast-food workers. Activists want to raise the national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour for everyone. They also hope to influence the debate in the presidential race.