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McDonald's workers protest, demand higher wages 4/2/2015

McDonald's workers protested Thursday in Miramar and across the country, chanting, ""Hold your burgers, hold your fries, make our wages supersize."

The demonstrations came in response to McDonald's announcement a day earlier that it will boost pay and benefits at company-owned stores in the U.S.

The fast-food giant said that, beginning July 1, it will raise starting wages to at least $1 above the local minimum wage, which is $8.05 in Florida. Wages of all employees up to restaurant managers will be adjusted based on tenure and job performance, McDonald's said.

Many workers called the move a public relations stunt.

The Fight for $15 campaign has called for fast-food chains to raise wages and allow workers to unionize in 2012.

"Nice try McDonald's. $15 is why we are fighting," placards read in Miramar

Similar protests took place in dozens of cities, including Los Angeles, New York, Detroit and Las Vegas. The Miramar event was the only one in South Florida. Others are planned April 15 in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, said Jackie de Carvalho, deputy communications director for the Service Employees International Union, the organizer.

McDonald's employee Laura Rollins, 63, of Fort Lauderdale said she struggles every month to pay her bills. Some go unpaid sometimes.

She can't pay them all when she makes only $8.45 an hour at McDonald's, she said. Raising her pay to at least $15 an hour would ease her financial burden, Rollins said.

McDonald's is giving 90,000 workers raises and vacation time
McDonald's is giving 90,000 workers raises and vacation time
"I want McDonald's to stand up and do the right thing by their employees," she said, standing next to about 20 protesters also demanding pay of $15 per hour.

In a statement Thursday, McDonald's said, "We respect people's right to peacefully protest, and our restaurants remain open every day focusing on providing exceptional experiences for our guests."

The company called its announcement "an important and meaningful first step as we continue to look at opportunities that will make a difference for employees."

McDonald's joined a growing roster of major U.S. employers that have vowed to boost pay to at least $9 an hour, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and TJX Cos.

By the end of 2016, McDonald's estimates, the average hourly wage for employees at company-owned restaurants will be more than $10.

Employees at corporate-owned restaurants with at least one year of service also will be eligible for paid time off. Those who work about 20 hours per week will be eligible for about 20 hours of paid time off per year, McDonald's said.

The wage increase and benefits will benefit more than 90,000 employees and about 10 percent of McDonald's restaurants nationwide, the Illinois-based company said.

Franchised McDonald's will make their own decisions about pay and benefits, McDonald's said.

McDonald's actions could force franchisees to follow suit, particularly if they're operating in a market alongside restaurants owned by the corporation, said Richard Adams, a fast-food consultant and former franchise owner. In the end, that could be good for McDonald's, he said. Higher wages would force franchisees to raise prices, which would mean higher royalty payments sent back to the corporation.

McDonald's worker and protester Westley Williams, 39, of Pembroke Pines said McDonald's $1 wage raise is a start toward better compensation for hard work.

"But they got a long way to go," he said.