UPDATE 4-US fast-food workers mark Tax Day demanding higher wages – Reuters


(Adds Seattle arrests)

By Sebastien Malo

NEW YORK, April 15 (Reuters) – Fast-food workers rallied in
U.S. cities on Wednesday to demand higher pay, using the April
15 deadline for filing tax returns to publicize their claim that
they cannot survive on the hourly wages paid by many U.S.
corporations.

The protests demanding pay increases to $15 an hour kicked
off at dawn outside a McDonald’s Corp restaurant in New
York with several hundred demonstrators.

Marching behind a banner reading “Raise wages, Raise the
city,” protesters carried placards with “Fight for $15 on 4/15.”

In Chicago, hundreds of protesters rallied at the University
of Illinois, their ranks swelled by healthcare and college
workers.

“I have no benefits, I have no stability from semester to
semester in any way being able to calculate out if and where
I’ll have a job,” said Alyson Warren, 34, an adjunct writing
professor at both Columbia College Chicago and Loyola University
Chicago. She said Loyola pays $4,000 to $4,500 per 15-week
course, and her group seeks $15,000 per course.

Roughly two dozen people were arrested for civil
disobedience after blocking a street near Seattle University in
protest, including some students, according to labor group
Working Washington.

Plans called for rallies to be held in 230 cities across the
United States.

Jumal Tarver, 36, said he cooks and cleans at a franchised
McDonald’s in Manhattan but cannot make ends meet on his pay of
$8.75 per hour.

He said he must rely on public assistance on top of his
wages.

“It’s hard for me to provide for my daughters with $8.75,”
he said.

Organizers said they chose to mobilize on April 15, the U.S.
deadline for filing federal income tax returns, to highlight
their complaint that many workers must rely on public
assistance.

The campaign for a living wage has been building on low-paid
workers’ position that the U.S. federal minimum wage of $7.25 an
hour is not enough to lift them from poverty.

Fast-food and retail chains are starting to respond, but
their wage increases are generally less than organizers demand.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc this year said it would raise
its minimum pay to $9 an hour in April, and $10 in 2016.
Target Corp and T.J. Maxx said
they would increase pay to $9 an hour.

McDonald’s has said it would raise hourly pay at
company-owned stores to $9 but this would not necessarily apply
to the more than 90 percent of its 14,000 U.S. locations
operated by franchisees.

Wages are expected to emerge as an issue in the 2016
presidential election campaign.

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton this week said it was
unfair that many families face financial hardship “when the
average CEO makes about 300 times what the average worker
makes.”

(Additional reporting by Nathan Layne in Chicago; Writing by
Ellen Wulfhorst and Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Doina Chiacu
and Mohammad Zargham)