Protesters Call for Higher Minimum Wage

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Thu, December 5 2013 at 5:31 PM, Updated: Mon, December 9 2013 at 8:22 AM

There's a high cost to low pay.

That's the message protesters delivered Thursday at multiple fast food restaurants in Medford and Ashland as they demanded more money for minimum wage workers.

The protesters came out with Oregon Action. They made their voices heard as they marched into a Burger King in Medford chanting.

They're calling for an increase in pay for minimum wage  workers, particularly people behind fast food counters.

According to Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries, almost 100,000 people in the state live on minimum wage.

"Oregon Action has said we were going to be out here, fighting for people who don't have a voice or cannot even though they want to, but they can't because they're afraid of losing their jobs," said Virginia Camberos the Regional Organizer for Oregon Action.

One man we spoke with who previously worked in fast food says it really is tough to get by.

"It's just not enough," said Jason Burkett, who lives in Medford.

"Housing is expensive," he continued.

It's no surprise. According to an online calculator out of MIT, a family of four made up of two adults and two kids should be making a living wage of at least $19.19 an hour. 

"We're actually subsidizing some of these families because they can't afford to live on the minimum wage. They go and they get food stamps, they have to go to food banks so they can feed their families," said Camberos.

However, even while Burkett agrees minimum wage workers should make more, he says since he hasn't had luck in the tough job market, he's back looking to work in fast food.

"That's pretty much all I can do right now," said Burkett.

The idea of raising the minimum wage gained steam over the summer where fast food workers rallied, demanding more pay.

Meanwhile, up in SeaTac, Washington, a ballot measure which would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for those working in  hospitality and transportation, passed. However a re-count is expected soon.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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