Fast food wage protesters picket at Moreland Avenue Krystal

Fast food workers and union activists set up a picket line early Thursday outside a southeast Atlanta restaurant to protest low pay.

The workers joined protesters in about 100 other cities Thursday to call for $15 an hour pay for fast food workers.

Tina McCoy, who works at the Church’s Chicken on Moreland Avenue, was one of the workers walking the picket line outside the Krystal just south of I-20 on Moreland.

“We’re here for the right to form a union, to hopefully get wages up to $15 an hour and just to have respect,” said McCoy, who has worked at the nearby Church’s for over 3 years.

“I make $7.40 an hour and I’m barely making it,” McCoy said. “I feel that if Church’s managers can ride around in Lexuses and have nice houses, the people who help make that money for them should be riding around in nice cars and not be on a bus trying to figure out how we’re going to eat for the next day.”

State Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) joined Thursday’s protest, which followed similar protests last summer in several dozen cities.

“We came to stand up and speak out against the injustice of these low wage jobs with no benefits that are all across the fast food industry all across the nation,” Orrock told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“They’re keeping people in poverty,” she said of the low-paying jobs.

“People have a job, but it’s not a job that can put food on the table and keep a roof over their head and educate their children, and that’s un-American as far as I can see,” Orrock said. “We are the wealthiest nation in the world, and we can’t allow the fast food corporations to make billions of profits while keeping people in poverty who do the work for them every day.”

The Associated Press reported that the National Restaurant Association, an industry lobbying group, called the demonstrations a "campaign engineered by national labor groups," and said the majority of participants across the country were union protesters rather than restaurant workers.