Fast-food workers in Dallas are joining a nationwide strike to protest their low pay.
Striking workers want to see their pay more than double from $7.25 an hour to $15. Workers said they're living paycheck to paycheck or need food stamps and other financial assistance while the booming industry makes $200 billion a year.
Protesters shouted "can't survive on $7.25" while holding signs asking for "fair pay" outside a McDonald's in Dallas during the strike Thursday morning.
Organizers said the strikes would span 50 U.S. cities and target workers at McDonald's, Jack in the Box, and other fast-food restaurants.
"Fast-food workers are at forefront of a backlash against the rising tide of low wage, no benefit jobs," organizers said. "The rapid increase in low-wage jobs has been identified at a major drag on our economic recovery, and unless something is done to reverse the trend by 2020 nearly half of all jobs will be considered be low-wage service jobs putting our economic future in jeopardy for decades to come."
Organizers also wanted to push for workers to be allowed to create unions "without fear of retaliation."
The Dallas McDonald's location at Great Trinity Forest Way, which had protesters outside around 6 a.m. Thursday, continued to stay open and serving customers while the protesters picketed outside.
Employees even went inside the restaurant, surrounding customers and chanting "you're worth more" at employees who didn't join the rally.
"We're working hard all day, every day, and when I get paid, I don't have nothing left for nothing. I'm on food stamps. I need money," says Wendy's worker Darletha Jones.
Outside of the store, employees from all different fast food restaurants blocked the drive-thru, which prompted a visit from Dallas Police. No one was arrested. One Corvette-driving customer didn't seem to mind, but she did give up on ordering breakfast in the drive-thru. Other customers were not as understanding.
Workers hope that customers see the low-paying service comes at a cost to their families.
"We're just living from week to week, payday loans, everything. That's just the side people don't see every day," says Whataburger worker Ernest McBride.
"It's a struggle. $7.25 an hour, I can barely afford a light bill, or rent, or shoes for my kids," says McDonald's worker Victoria Price.
"McDonald's is a $5 billion company, and the people are on food stamps, because they're on minimal wage. I think that's a sin," says Pastor Barbara LaToison. She stopped by the McDonald's to support the workers. Many are from low-income families that she serves at St. Mark's AME Zion in Oak Cliff.
Protestors say they won't give up the fight for their family or the nearly 97,000 fast food workers in Dallas.
"No matter how many years come to pass, we will make more money," says Jones.
A statement from McDonald's read:
"The story promoted by the individuals organizing these events does not provide an accurate picture of what it means to work at McDonald's. We respect the strong relationship which exists among McDonald's, our independent operators, and the employees who work in McDonald's restaurants. Our restaurants remain open, with our dedicated employees providing strong service to our customers.
McDonald's aims to offer competitive pay and benefits to our employees. We provide training and professional development for all of those who wish to take advantage of those opportunities. Our history is full of examples of individuals who worked their first job with McDonald's and went on to successful careers both within and outside of McDonald's."
A statement from a Wendy's spokesperson echoed McDonald's message of the fast-food jobs starting careers:
"We are proud to provide a place where thousands of people, who come to us asking for a job, can enter the workforce at a starting wage, gain skills and advance with us or move on to something else."