Topeka pizza shop employees join national walkout

Christine Quinn

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Employees of a Pizza Hut in southeast Topeka have walked off the job for the day as part of a national strike to seek higher wages and union protection for fast-food workers.

Eight employees gathered before the lunch hour Thursday to make their demands known. The action was part of a nationwide day of striking by fast-food workers seeking an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and the right to form unions for better working conditions.

The employees were joined by several Topeka union organizers, who encouraged the workers to fight for their rights.

Joseph Cordero, who works in the restaurant and also delivers food, says the $7.25 an hour he earns isn’t enough to pay for his gas for his vehicle or college costs.

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The National Restaurant Association released the following statement from Executive Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs Scott DeFife.

“The restaurant industry provides opportunity to over 13 million Americans with jobs that meet critical needs within our economy.  We welcome a national discussion on wages, but it should be based on facts. The restaurant industry is the nation’s second largest private sector employer and our industry is an industry of opportunity. Nine out of ten salaried restaurant workers, including owners and managers, started as hourly workers. The fact is, only five percent of restaurant employees earn the minimum wage and those that do are predominantly working part-time and half are teenagers.  Restaurant jobs teach valuable skills and a strong work ethic that are useful for workers throughout their professional careers.”

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