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‘Fight for $15’ workers protest at Manchester McDonald's

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 14. 2016 11:13AM
Low-wage earners and union activists protest early Thursday outside McDonald’s on South Willow Street in Manchester, part of an international day of strikes and protests demanding $15 an hour and union rights for workers. (PAT GROSSMITH/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — More than a dozen low-wage workers and union activists gathered outside McDonald's on South Willow Street about 6 a.m. Thursday demanding $15 an hour and union rights.

The protesters were part of a worldwide day of protest by the Fight for $15 movement to call attention to low pay in the fast-food, home-care, childcare industries, at airports and in higher education.

The protesters were demanding that corporations pay workers liveable wages and also pay their fair share of taxes.

Stephanie Pollock, who earns $8.50 an hour at Burger King further down on South Willow Street, said she worked at the South Willow Street McDonald's for about four years.

Workers, she said, received an annual five-cent an hour wage increase. When she left, she said, she was being paid $7.40 an hour.

"That's why I went to Burger King," she said. "I'm still broke though."

She said she still lives with her parents because she can't afford her own place.

Ashley Smith, a single mother of six, said she lives with her mother and grandmother and earns $8.25 working for Burger King.

She had been working 40 hours a week, she said, until she was out sick with a medical note and she was cut to 19 hours.

"I was crying because I need that money so bad," she said.

Protesters chanted, "We work, we sweat, so put $15 on our check," and cheered loudly when passing drivers beeped in support.

Soon after the protest began, six Manchester police officers arrived.

Protesters were angry when one officer refused to shake a protest organizer’s hand, saying he doesn't shake hands. Protesters said it was disrespectful.

The officer told protesters to stay on the sidewalk and off McDonald’s property. Three officers then left, while one remained parked in the restaurant lot and two others parked across the street.

Protesters said that Jeffrey Pendleton, who had worked at Burger King in Nashua, was being remembered worldwide during the day.

Pendleton, who was arrested for possessing marijuana and was unable to pay $100 bail, died last month in the Valley Street jail. An autopsy did not determine his cause of death and toxicology reports are still pending.

Pendleton was a member of the Fight for $15 movement.

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