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San Diego Fast Food Workers Join National Protest For Higher Wages

Wendy's employee Debra Flores looks behind her at her place of employment whi...

Photo by Tarryn Mento

Above: Wendy's employee Debra Flores looks behind her at her place of employment while addressing the crowd at a rally calling for higher wages, Aug. 29, 2013.

The people who pour your Frosty or wrap your Egg McMuffin live off a minimum wage income. They rallied in San Diego and across the country to say that's not enough.

— Dressed in her Wendy's polo shirt, Debra Flores got to work early on Thursday to join dozens of activists rallying in front of her place of employment. The demonstration is part of a national call for higher wages.

"Right now, we get minimum wage, so $8 an hour," said Flores, a young mother of a 2-year-old daughter.

Photo by Tarryn Mento

Councilman David Alvarez calls to increase wages for employees at fast food restaurants at a rally in downtown San Diego, Aug. 29, 2013.

If she works her scheduled four-hour shifts four days a week, that amounts to a little more than $500 per month, before taxes. To help cover her expenses, such as her phone bill and child's diapers, she works an overnight shift at a second job and relies on financial assistance from her mother.

However, research shows that's still not enough.

According to the Insight Center's self-sufficiency standards, an adult with a pre-school aged child living in San Diego County needs around $4,000 per month — or approximately $24 an hour — to get by.

By her own estimate, Flores said she makes roughly a quarter of that.

San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez, who attended the rally, said this is a wrong and that needs to be corrected.

"It's time for us to do what's right for all people — to give them some justice for the work that they do," he said.

Speaking into a megaphone before the growing crowd, Alvarez recalled his own mother's time working at a fast food restaurant. Spending hours on your feet for such little pay isn't easy work, Alvarez said.

"Sometimes it's not on your feet, sometimes it's on your knees cleaning the floors of these places where people come and eat," he said.

The rally in downtown San Diego was part of a 35-city grassroots campaign to put pressure on employers to increase wages.

A representative from Wendy's did not return requests for comment.

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Photo of Tarryn Mento

Tarryn Mento
Health Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksThe health beat is about more than just illness, medicine and hospitals. I examine what impacts the wellness of humans and their communities.

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