Minimum wage protests underway in Philadelphia, other US cities

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This is part of a national movement made up of a coalition of fast food workers, home care and child care workers, and even adjunct university professors. (WPVI)

A nationwide call for action for a higher minimum wage got underway Wednesday, and the push included rallies in the Delaware Valley.

Philadelphia was one of 200 cities in the U.S. hosting demonstrations.

The protesters are demanding that fast food chains and other entry level employers basically double the salaries of their workers.

They want a minimum wage of $15 dollars an hour.

The current minimum in Pennsylvania is $7.25 an hour, and fast food workers say they can't live on that.

"I need the $15/hour to take care of my baby. $7.25 isn't enough," said Popeye's worker Marangely Melendez.

They picked April 15th, Tax Day, to rally for $15-dollars an hour.

Some of the protesters could be heard chanting "We're fighting for 15! We're fighting for 15!" Others could be hard to say "I can't survive on seven-twenty five! I can't survive on seven-twenty five!"

The minimum wage has been at the heart of what many see as growing income disparity in the country.

President Obama has proposed, and Congress is debating, a $10.10 minimum wage.

Here's how that stacks up against what we have now:

Pennsylvania is right at the current federal level of $7.25, but New Jersey's minimum wage is more than a dollar higher at $8.38. Delaware is at $7.50.

"I don't get paid enough and I'm fortunate to have a family that helps me take care of my son, because $7.25 isn't enough to take care of my son alone," said Popeye's worker Shymara Jones.

The protesters are urging wage increase for a wide range of low income earners, many of whom are also on federal assistance to make ends meet.

That includes adjunct university professors.

"We don't receive any health benefits, we receive low pay. I make $20,000/year as an adjunct," said Ian Davisson of Temple University.

The protesters have been targeting McDonald's restaurants, but they haven't shut them down. Workers, for the most part, have stayed on the job.

We could only find a handful of actual strikers in this crowd.

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