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Congress members pen letter to restaurant CEOs as fast food employees strike

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Democratic members of Congress want to see McDonald’s and other fast food chains increase wages to store employees. The letter came just prior to another nationwide strike by fast food cooks and food preparation employees.

“Too many hard-working families are being forced to depend on poverty-level wages,” wrote 53 members of Congress in a letter mailed on Wednesday to several restaurant executives including McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson. “Paying fair wages and putting more spending money in the hands of consumers will strengthen our economy.”

The letter, signed by representatives including Raul Grijalva (D-Az.) and Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), was also mailed to CEOs at Wendy’s, Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, and Yum! Brands Inc.

Cooks and food preparation employees (including those in the fast food industry) make an average of $9 per hour (or $18,720 annually) according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The salary is clearly not enough in the eyes of some employees, and thousands of them plan to strike on Thursday in more than 100 cities nationwide for an hourly rate of $15.

“One year after the first strike hit the $200 billion fast-food industry, hundreds of Michigan fast food workers are expected to walk off their jobs Thursday, joining a 100-city strike wave,” said strike organizers in a press release.

President Barack Obama is in agreement with the striking fast food workers in that he is pushing for a bill (pending in Congress) that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from $7.25 an hour.

However, Thompson is unlikely to bow down to any pressure brought on by striking workers. He told Bloomberg TV in July that his company has “always been an above minimum-wage employer,” and stated further that McDonald’s would “continue to provide entry-level jobs.”

Realistically, the only way for the fast-food giants to offer their food preparation employees higher wages would be by increasing the price of their most popular food items – a scenario that every CEO (including Thompson) is unlikely to support.

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