Hundreds participated in a “Fight for $15” protest in Atlanta demanding the minimum wage be raised. They are organizing a larger march planned for April 15. (HANDOUT)

Hundreds march in Atlanta seeking boost in minimum wage

Hundreds of people marched from Ebenezer Baptist Church to a McDonald’srestaurant a mile away Saturday afternoon demanding fast-food restaurants and other businesses lift the minimum wage.

Carrying signs that said, “People and Planet over Profit,” the crowd of close to 500 flooded the fast-food restaurant. They chanted, “If we don’t get it, shut it down!”

Robertson Anderson, 23, who has worked at McDonald’s for about two and a half years in the maintenance department was so moved, he walked off the job. Outside, he seemed visibly shaken, and he said he wasn’t sure whether he would return to his job.

“I do know one thing,” he said. “Everyone deserves $15 an hour.”

The Fight for $15 started in New York among fast food workers urging major employers such as McDonalds for a higher hourly wage, and the movement has since spread across the country and has expanded to a wider range of professions, including health care workers, Wal-mart employees and adjunct professors.

Earlier this year, legislation was introduced in the state House to nearly double Georgia’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

The current rate is $5.15 per hour in Georgia. States must meet the federal wage baseline of $7.25 for all covered workers.

But not everyone is on board with boosting the minimum wage. Those who oppose an increase to the minimum wage argue a higher minimum wage would be too heavy a burden on employers, especially small business owners. And those employers, in turn, would be unable to hire as many people – which could ultimately lead to higher unemployment rates.

The Atlanta march started with a gathering at Ebenzer to galvanize and organize for a much larger “Fight for $15” protest planned for cities across the country on April 15. At the gathering Saturday, workers from various industries spoke about their struggles to survive on low-wages. They toured the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change and strategized how to build their own movement.

Amber Turner, who is 24, and works about 35 hours a week at fast food restaurant, said she wanted her voice to be heard.

“I make $7.25 an hour and that is not enough to live off,” said 24-year-old Turner of Atlanta who said after taxes, she takes home about $400 every two weeks. “I have to live with a roommate and every month I am having to choose between which bills to pay, because I can’t pay them all.”

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