OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Workers walked off the job Thursday at about 30 East Bay fast-food restaurants from Richmond to Fremont as part of a national movement aimed at boosting their pay and benefits.

Beth Trimarco, of the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, said the local action is part of a coordinated effort occurring at fast-food restaurants in about 60 cities across the country.

Trimarco said the movement started as a grassroots movement earlier this summer and is now supported by various community groups and religious leaders.

She said most fast-food workers in California only make the minimum wage of $8 an hour and have to make difficult choices between paying for food, rent or child care.

Thursday’s action called for workers to be paid at least $15 an hour, to have better benefits and regular schedules, and to have the right to form a union without retaliation, among other demands, Trimarco said.

“We want to lift families out of poverty, and increasing workers’ pay will send more money right back into local communities,” Trimarco said.

The fast-food restaurants being targeted include McDonald’s, KFC, Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell and Jack in the Box.

Trimarco said that in some cases, workers are trying to shut down the restaurants where they work.

She said at action at the McDonald’s at 2520 East 12th St. in Oakland Thursday morning didn’t completely shut down the restaurant but slowed its business, partly because potential customers were deterred from going to the drive-through lane.

More than 200 people surrounded a KFC chain restaurant at Lake Park Avenue with dozens going inside.

Jasmine Nelson currently makes $8 an hour at a Berkeley Jack in the Box.

“That would actually make it easier to pay bills, make it easier to take care of me, my family; provide food for us and not have to just eat at fast food places where that’s all we can afford. We cant’ get good groceries and everything because there’s not enough money to get the good things that we need for our bodies,” she said.

Organizer Nikki Fortunato Bas from the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy said even full time fast-food workers making $8 an hour earn less than $20,000, which is below the federal poverty level.

“It’s really exciting to see them standing up because we’re all trying to rebuild the middle class. We’re trying to protect the economy. If these workers can get $15 an hour that’s money they can spend here in Oakland to help our entire community,” Bas said.

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