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Seeking better pay, California fast-food workers organize rally

By 2016, the minimum wage in California is set to raise to $10.10 an hour. However, many believe it's simply not enough to prevent a drain on the resources of the state and federal government. According to a study by the UC Berkeley Labor Center, 25 percent of the country's workforce is on some sort of state or federal assistance program. For fast-food workers' families, it's 50 percent - more than twice the national average.

The study found that $717 million dollars a year is the price tag for taxpayers to support fast-good workers on government assistance programs. For one fast-food worker in Oakland who has worked 17 years for KFC, an increase in minimum wage would be significant. The woman only makes $9 an hour right now, which is only $1 more than the current minimum wage in California.

On Dec. 5, about 200 people rallied at a fast-food restaurant in Oakland. They want a minimum wage of $15 an hour. The rally was one of 100 such events held across the nation, with fast-food workers and wage and hour law supporters making their views known.

The increase in the minimum wage is not without opponents. The International Franchise Association's chief executive officer and president says that the supporters of increasing the minimum wage "ignore the fact that this policy will jeopardize opportunities for entry-level workers to gain the skills they need to move up the employment ladder." He adds that the increase will harm, not help, employees.

While nearly everyone wants to make more money, for those who barely make enough to support themselves and their families, these wage and hour law reforms are essential. In addition to paying the mandated minimum wage, employers are also responsible for paying overtime wages, when applicable. Employment attorneys work to ensure that an employee's rights are not violated by employers who choose to ignore or circumvent the law.

Source: sfgate.com, "Fast-food workers rally for better pay" Joe Garofoli, Dec. 05, 2013

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