Hundreds March, Join 'Fight For $15' In Detroit

"The wages are not right. I’m not able to live like a normal person."

May 23, 2019 - 4:47 pm
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DETROIT (WWJ) -- The Fight For $15 hit the streets of Detroit Thursday as hundreds turned out to rally for higher minimum wage.

The crowd, comprised of mostly McDonald's employees, marched to the McDonald's on Mack Avenue near I-75 on the day of the company's shareholders' meeting. Several other cities held rallies on Thursday as well.

Lacrecha Osterman works at the restaurant and tells WWJ's Jon Hewett the Fight for $15 is past due.

"The wages are not right. I’m not able to live like a normal person," Osterman said. "By the time I pay rent or juggling bills around just to make it, to pay on a budget plan for lights, I’m broke and I don’t even have anything to do for my family or my grandchildren.

The Fight For $15 is a growing national movement for higher wages, particularly among fast food workers. The movement has seen some successes, including several states, like Illinois, promise gradual increases to an eventual minimum wage of $15. Michigan's minimum wage is $9.45 an hour -- which was recently increased in March by 20-cents. The movement is becoming increasingly popular with Democrats at the national level.

Unlike a rally last fall that resulted in several arrests, this latest march for McDonald’s was without incident, but not without plenty of chants, songs and rally cries.

Among the 200 or so rally-goers was Angela Kirkland, who said despite not being a fast food employee, she believes the Fight For $15 is important enough to add her voice to the debate.

"It’s a fair discussion and it needs to be raised and these people need to be paid."

Darnisha Wright, a manager and shift leader at the Mack McDonald’s, stepped outside to show her support.

"Passing great food along, this is serious business. And if you have to provide great food for people, then you should be paid for that," Wright said. "It would make a great difference to me, instead of just struggling check to check."

Wright said she's optimistic and feels the time for a higher minimum wage may finally be coming.

Robbie Cochran, who has worked at that McDonald’s for nearly 20 years, put the Fight For 15 in these terms:

"When it comes down to paying rent, lighting gas or buying your kid a pair of shoes, which one are you going to pick? Which one is more important?"

Terrance Custer of Detroit was a little more direct:

"We’ve got to be able to feed our children. And we all need a raise. I need a raise."

Opponents of the Fight For $15 say such a drastic change in the minimum wage would result in fewer hours for employees and increased consumer prices. Such a change at fast food restaurants could have a profound impact on family-owned businesses that may not be able to afford the higher wages.