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Fast food strike: Workers walking off the job

12:43 PM, Dec 5, 2013   |    comments
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Temple Terrace, Florida -- Pushing for better pay, fast food workers are walking off the job and leading another round of rallies, including here in Tampa Bay.

They stood and shouted in front of stores across America earlier this year and they say it's working, so protesters came back with signs and megaphones Thursday.

A group of fast food workers chanted, "What do we want? Respect!" as the sun came up over the Dunkin' Donuts on Busch Boulevard in Temple Terrace.

Maybe the most anxious among the crowd of two dozen people was Lashonna Delgardo. She's supposed to work as a shift leader Thursday night at this Dunkin' Donuts.

And she's decided to strike. She won't be there when it's time to clock in.

"Yeah -- uh huh," Delgardo said with an anxious chuckle. "I'm a little nervous about that, but I'm willing to do what I need to do. I'm willing to fight the good fight."

Delgardo and her sign-carrying colleagues say the median wage for fast food workers -- around $9 an hour, less than $19,000 a year -- isn't enough for families to get by on.

They want a wage of $15 an hour and the ability to organize into unions without companies hassling workers.

"I have a two-year-old little girl. I want to give her the best," Delgardo said. "And I love my job -- I love what I do -- I love working with people. I just think I deserve a little more for what I do."

Organizers say these low wages cost all of us money. To keep these families from starving and freezing, they get help from taxpayers to the tune of $7 billion a year.

The protesters say they've gotten support from people in their communities, so they're planning protests in 100 cities Thursday.

Fast food companies responding to the protests say they are the businesses that are creating jobs in this economic recovery.

In a statement, the National Restaurant Association said:

"Dramatic increases in a starting wage such as those called for in these rallies will challenge that job growth history, increase prices for restaurant meals, especially in the value segments, and lead to fewer jobs created."

It's an argument that won't get any sympathy from Delgardo and the many more chanting along with her.

"We do the work for you. We sell your products. We're on the forefront," Delgardo said.

"We're out there on the front line making sure that people are buying the products, people are happy when they come into your stores. So, I think we deserve this."

A crowd of around two dozen protesters rallied outside the Dunkin's Donuts on Busch Boulevard in Temple Terrace to greet the breakfast rush at 6:30 a.m.

Thursday afternoon at 4:30, they'll rally again at the KFC location across the street from Busch Gardens in Tampa.

The rallies are not expected to shut down any stores.

Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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