The argument goes that fast food workers don’t deserve more than minimum wage because the jobs require no skill and are meant to be temporary for teenagers and others who are just entering the workforce.
But in a city like Detroit, where unemployment is rampant and people are losing their homes, fast food is anything but temporary. At least it provides some money for those lucky enough to get full-time jobs – a little under 0 a week after taxes.
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At $13,000 a year, a full-time fast food worker makes just above the poverty line for an individual, which is $11,136.
On Thursday, more than 100 fast food workers in Detroit walked out to protest what they consider unlivable wages.
Here are four people who work in fast food in the Motor City. Click on a photo to see their story.
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Rita Jennings, 37, worked at McDonald’s for 11 years and still makes minimum wage, $7.40 an hour. Barely able to pay her $425-a-month rent, she certainly can’t afford a car and insurance, so she takes the bus to work every day. “It’s almost impossible to get by with just one person,” Jennings said. “You have to live with somebody to make it. If you don’t, it’s really bad.”
Leroy Taylor, 24, works part-time at McDonalds. He’s trying to raise a family but the job isn’t cutting it. “It’s so hard trying to raise them off $7.40 an hour,” Taylor said. I’m just trying to do the right thing, but I’m not making enough money.”
Eddie Smith, 20, works part-time at Popeyes. He’s a college student and worries how he’ll get through school because of responsibilities at home. “I’m trying to help my parents pay rent and provide food for my brothers and sisters, but I can’t do that at $7.40 an hour. It’s impossible.
Ashante Mills, 24, works full-time at Wendy’s. She lives paycheck to paycheck, worrying how she’ll provide for her family. “It’s really hard to get by,” Mills said. “I have a kid and bills. It’s really hard.”
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.