About 20 Fast-Food Workers Strike In Madison As Part Of Nationwide Protest

Thousands Across Country Call For Increase In Minimum Wage

Motise Reynolds, one of the fast food workers who participated in the strike in Madison, and his daughter Catalina. Photo: Laurel White/WPR News.

About 20 fast-food workers walked off the job in Madison on Thursday, joining thousands across the country in calling for a raise in the minimum wage.

The protests, which were part of a national movement that included similar actions in Milwaukee, Chicago and Detroit, come just a few days after President Barack Obama called for a minimum wage increase at a Labor Day event in Milwaukee.

The protestors called for the state minimum wage to be bumped from $7.25 to $15 an hour.

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Motise Reynolds, a 20-year-old employee at Popeye’s in Fitchburg, was one of the workers who joined the strike. He currently makes $8 an hour.

“If we don’t stand up for it, nobody else will,” said Reynolds. “It’s always been about the people at the top taking advantage of the people at the bottom.”

Opponents to raising the minimum wage in Wisconsin say that even a smaller bump to $10.10 an hour would cost the state thousands of jobs.

“If you look at the $10.10 an hour wage hike, that would actually cost the U.S. about a half a million jobs, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and another report here in Wisconsin showed that the state would lose about 16,500 jobs,” said Nick Novak, the director of communications at the MacIver Institute, a conservative think tank.

State Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, was among a few elected officials and clergy that attended the Madison protests. She said the economic impact of a wage hike would be positive, not negative.

“We would be able to save money for our government because there is a national cost of over $7 million a year of public assistance that is being paid to these workers, as well as the fact that the workers would have money that they would be spending directly in the community,” said Sargent.

Nine individuals were arrested at the Madison event. More than 25 were arrested at a similar protest in Milwaukee, including U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore.