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Updated May 15, 2014 - 7:20 pm

Arizona fast food workers protest for higher wages

The protestors are shown. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

PHOENIX -- Fast food workers in the Valley joined those in 149 other U.S. cities and 33 other countries in protesting their low pay Thursday.

They're calling for a $15 per hour wage and the right to form a union without retaliation.

More than 100 of them marched to the Burger King at Seventh Street and Baseline Road on Thursday morning.

That's where Amanda Sierra has been working for the past five months. She said that her current $7.90 per hour wage isn't enough.

"It's hard to provide for families and people that are struggling with their house, rent, milk, everything," she said.

Sierra said her employer doesn't understand what the people who work at the restaurant are going through.

"There are pants nowadays that cost $21," she said. "I have to work a couple of hours just to buy one pair of pants."

Sierra said she took the job five months ago because it was the first one she could find.

Sierra also said that the working in the kitchen is deplorable.

"They don't have air conditioning in the back," she said. "I would sweat. I get busy. I get tired. And you're doing 'multitasks.' You're doing the work of three people."

The protests were organized by the Service Employees International Union, which claimed in press releases that fast food workers would "walk off the job" to join the protests.

But Sierra didn't. She said she was able to join the protest because it was her day off.

When asked if any of her fellow employees that were on duty actually did walk off, she said "no," claiming they were too intimidated by management to walk off.

See videos of the Phoenix demonstration:

Picketers move inside Burger King

Picketers outside Burger King: Part 1

Picketers outside Burger King: Part 2

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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