COLUMBIA — Some local fast food workers will walk off the job Thursday in solidarity with a national call to strike for higher wages.
According to a release sent out by Shannon Garth-Rhodes, spokeswoman for the St. Louis Organizing Committee, the national strike will demand $15 an hour for workers' labor and the right to unionize without retaliation.
In Columbia, workers at McDonald's, Taco Bell and Burger King will be part of the strike. A news conference will be held at 9:30 a.m. at Hardee's at 200 S. Providence Road, and a rally will be held at noon at Taco Bell at 508 Nifong Blvd.
The Rev. Molly Housh Gordon of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Columbia is one of the members of the clergy supporting the workers Thursday.
"It's all emerging very quickly, which is exciting," she said.
Interest in a Columbia strike sparked from similar movements close to home in Kansas City and St. Louis, Housh Gordon said.
"After Kansas City and St. Louis, interest has been ramping up," she said.
The national movement started as early as November in New York, according to the news release, when 200 workers held a strike with the support of their communities and clergy allies.
Seven other cities picked up the cause during spring and summer of this year, according to the release — Flint, Mich.; Chicago; Detroit; Milwaukee; St. Louis; Kansas City; and Seattle.
The movement has spread with the help of social media. Fast Food Forward, a New York-based organization that supports the strikes, has 6,573 likes on Facebook, 2,106 followers on Twitter and has started a petition that had more than 125,000 signatures and counting Wednesday night.
Many of the other cities involved have Twitter and Facebook pages of their own with local followers. Those on social media have event pages for the strikes planned to take place Thursday.
Housh Gordon said she has been supporting the workers for one main reason.
"It has to do with human dignity," she said. "I believe in the inherent worth in people."
She said $15 would be a living wage and that, as it is now, most fast food workers can't afford to pay their bills.
James Brown of Columbia agreed. As a crew trainer at Taco Bell making $7.50 an hour, he said he can't support his family of three.
"I can't live. I can't support my family," said Brown of his motivation to join the strike. "You ever heard that phrase 'keep your head above water?' ... Well I come up for air every blue moon."
The $15 would satisfy Brown, but he thinks it should be a bit more.
"Ninety-five percent of (stress) is financial," he said.
Brown said he is both angry and disappointed with the situation he has at work.
"I'm a hard worker," said Brown, who works an average of 35 hours a week.
If the big corporations don't respond to the strikes, Brown said they're going to lose at least one employee.
"They're gonna lose the work," Brown said. "I have to shoot for the future."
Supervising editor is Allie Hinga.