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PHOENIX -- Workers, labor activists and supporters are gathering at fast-food restaurants around Arizona as part of a national effort calling for higher wages.

About 30 protesters gathered before noon Thursday outside a McDonald's near Seventh Street and McDowell in the heart of Phoenix.

They held signs that read ``Raise the Wage'' and ``Respect Workers.''

Ileana Salinas is a case worker at a labor rights center in Phoenix. She said she sees many cases in which fast-food workers don't make enough money to get by.

Tomas Robles, with Living United for Change in Arizona, a group that showed support for the workers, agreed with Salinas.

"A lot of the workers make minimum wage -- $7.80," he said. "Many of them cannot afford to pay for basic expenses. We're not talking cable or phone or cell phone. We're talking about rent, food and clothing."

Salinas said the problem is fast-food workers are no longer just young people in their first job. She said the economic recession has forced breadwinners to take such jobs to provide for their families.

Robles furthered her argument, saying that better pay can also help boost the economy.

"Higher wages means more money to be spent out in the community," he said. "It means people can buy more things and pump more life into the economy. When everyone is doing better, the economy as a whole is doing better."

KTAR's Sandra Haros contributed to this report.

Associated Press,

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