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Fast Food Workers In Texas Join Wage Increase Fight

Ryan Poppe
TPR News

As part of a nationwide protest in over 60 cities, fast-food workers from Austin and the surrounding area walked off their job sites in protest of better wages from their employers.

Jennifer Castilla works at an Austin area Wendy’s Restaurant. The mother of four children makes $8/hour.

"I feel sorry for the ones who make lower than I do and that have as many kids as I got," Castilla said, "but I understand the struggle in life. I’ve been struggling my whole life in fast food and I figure now is the time to step up."

Austin Pastor John Elford from the University United Methodist Church said today's protest is much like Martin Luther King Jr.'s march on Washington D.C. that started with a pursuit by the minority community to have equal pay and equal access to jobs.

"For Dr. King, those two things -- jobs and freedom -- were intimately connected. There cannot be human equality, he said, without economic equality. So, 50 years later that hope for jobs that would pay living wages is still a distant dream for many, many people."

He went on to say,

"Over the last 50 years we have stood idly by while the gap between the rich and poor in our nation has widened into a vast canyon and poverty has spiraled out of control," he said. "We talk in our communities about the importance of getting a job and finding meaningful work as a way out of poverty. And yet it seems we have found a way to create work that keeps people in poverty."

Like their national counterparts, the group is asking for the minimum wage to be raised to $15.00/hour and for fast-food and restaurant workers to be able to form unions in the State of Texas.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.