W.Va. veterans rally for $15 minimum wage

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (West Virginia News Service) — McDonald’s workers in West Virginia, many of whom are military veterans, are rallying today in Charleston to demand a $15 minimum wage, after the company announced it would boost wages for 3,600 hourly workers by an average of 10% over the next few months. The average McDonald’s worker currently earns around $8 an hour.

West Virginia native Zachary Shrewsbury, an organizer for Common Defense, said that after he left the U.S. Marine Corps, he could only find minimum-wage work when he returned home.

“When a lot of veterans do get out, especially when they come back home, and when most of your jobs here are retail or fast food, or any other minimum-wage job, that’s the only thing you have,” he said.

Advocates for the pay hike also are calling on the fast-food chain to exit the National Restaurant Association and the International Franchise Association, to make good on their pledge to stop lobbying against national minimum-wage increases. In a news release, McDonald’s said it expects the hourly wage for its company-owned restaurants to increase to $15 in a “phased, market-by-market approach.”

Shrewsbury also pointed out that a significant portion of McDonald’s employees aren’t teenagers working summer jobs, but adults with children.

“These are people who have families, these are people who are providing for their family,” he said. “These are veterans who fought for their country.”

Research indicates that of the estimated 9 million employed veterans nationwide, almost 2 million would be paid more if Congress raised the federal minimum wage.