HOUSTON – Fast food workers in Houston are participating in a national strike to win $15 an hour wages.
Workers from McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King and other fast food restaurants walked off their jobs as part of the strike early Thursday morning. In the afternoon, they moved to McDonald's in the 6000 block of Richmond.
Five protesters were arrested when they blocked traffic by sitting in the middle of the busy intersection. One of those protesters was Iris Ortiz. Her father Luis works at a Burger King in the Montrose area. He says he was proud.
"She told me about it," said Ortiz. "She said I'm doing this for my family, for mom, for you."
Fast food workers are frustrated and desperate for higher wages. On average they make $9 an hour. Most protesters said they make minimum wage.
"I can't survive with $7.50 an hour, for that reason I fight here," said Ortiz. "I need to pay my bills. I need to pay education for my daughter."
Workers say fast food CEOS make millions a year while their employees live below the poverty line. They say it's not fair and unjust. In the Houston area, a worker would need to make $18 an hour to support a family of three.
"Parents are always working, just to maintain the minimum of what they need," said Diana Barrera.
Many people honked as they drove by, but others were not happy with the protest.
"It's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of," said one driver. "It's ridiculous. If they make $15, I won't be able to pay for their burgers. They only care about themselves. Stopping traffic is hampering me too."
The campaign, backed by Service Employees International Union, started in New York City nearly two years ago. Workers in more than 150 cities are expected to participate in the latest action.
Organizers say they plan to engage in civil disobedience, which could lead to arrests, and draw more attention to the cause.
The five people arrested were charged with blocking traffic, a class B misdemeanor.