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Oakland Fast Food Workers Join National Protest For $15 Minimum Wage, Arrests Made

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People wait in line at a fast food restaurant. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

People wait in line at a fast food restaurant. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Workers at fast-food chains in Oakland were arrested after walking off the job Thursday morning as part of a continuing effort to get pay raises and union rights.

The workers were arrested Thursday afternoon following protests at the McDonald’s at 4514 Telegraph Ave. at 7 a.m. and near Oakland City Hall at 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza at noon.

Nick Jiles with Service Employees International Union said about 100 people showed up to support the protests, which are part of a movement demanding a $15 minimum wage and the right to form a union without the threat of retaliation.

Jiles said businesses the protestors visited remained open, but employees have walked out to support a $15 minimum wage.

“The goal is to continue to escalate the movement,” he said.

Irvin Ortega, 25, works for a McDonald’s in Oakland and said he was scheduled to work Thursday, but went on strike to support the movement.

Ortega said his current hourly wage at the fast-food chain isn’t enough for him to support himself and his daughter and makes it impossible to plan a future that includes a college education.

He said the protests are seeing a lot of support from the community.

“A lot of people are united and are showing courage,” he said. “People can make a change.”

The protests in Oakland came on the same day as fast-food workers across the country went on strike and demonstrated for better pay and the right to unionize without retaliation.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, said in a statement Thursday that she applauds the actions taken by workers who are standing up for a living wage and the right to unionize.

“No one working full-time should live in poverty or have to work two jobs to meet ends meet,” Lee said. “To re-build our economy and expand the middle class, we need to empower workers with a living wage that will put more money in their pockets.”

McDonald’s released a statement this morning acknowledging the protests at restaurants across the country and classified them not as “strikes,” but as “staged demonstrations in which people are being transported to fast-food restaurants.”

“The topic of minimum wage goes well beyond McDonald’s—it affects our country’s entire workforce,” the statement read. “McDonald’s and our independent franchisees support paying our valued employees fair wages aligned with a competitive marketplace. We believe that any minimum wage increase should be implemented over time so that the impact on owners of small and medium-sized businesses – like the ones who own and operate the majority of our restaurants – is manageable.”

© Copyright 2014 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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