Fight for $15: Low-Wage Workers Rally on Tax Day - NBC Chicago
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Fight for $15: Low-Wage Workers Rally on Tax Day

Over 1,000 workers from Los Angeles were expected to join the fight and march in downtown LA Wednesday.

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    Fast Food Workers March for Higher Wages

    Fast food workers demonstrated in downtown Los Angeles to call for higher wages. Ted Chen reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. (Published Wednesday, April 15, 2015)

    Hundreds of fast food workers marched in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday, joining thousands across the country to push for higher wages.

    Their target -- $15 an hour, a considerable increase from California's minimum wage of $9 an hour but something they say they need to make ends meet.

    The protesters chose a starting point with about 10 fast food places all on one corner just north of USC.

    It highlights the widening gap between the wealthy and poor and how many are struggling to survive and feed their families.

    They held banners, balloons and signs with the number 15.

    Fast food workers chose April 15 to make their point, that they're paid so little that they often have to make up the difference in public assistance.

    "Sometimes I have to make a choice to pay rent or buy food," said Melina Ramirez, a fast food worker. "Sometimes I have to buy diapers and we don't have enough to provide for ourselves with food."

    Ramirez brought her 11-month-old daughter, Vivian.

    There were lots of moms at the demonstration.

    And a soon-to-be mom in Monica Reynoso, who's pregnant with her first child.

    "How am I going to support my child?" Reynoso said. "What am I gonna do if I don't have enough for diapers?"

    The march down Figueroa Street was part of a nationwide protest, a steady drumbeat that it's getting next to impossible to live on California's minimum wage. San Francisco and Seattle are two cities that have already established minimum wages of $15 an hour. Voters will be considering that minimum in a ballot initiative in Oregon.

    Many of the protesters were students, some trying to support not just themselves, but also their families.

    "I have to support myself too and support them because right now my mom has no job, so it's just me and my dad working," said Nayeli Ceja.

    Businesses say raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.

    Critics call the protests a ploy by the Service Employees International Union to unionize fast food workers, something they've been trying to do for years.

    But the workers say none of that changes the reality that it's getting harder to make ends meet.

    "Its very hard to make close to rent sometimes," Reynoso said. "Sometimes I have to borrow money from my sister or my dad."