More fast food workers testify for higher minimum wage

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – How much does $7.35 an hour amount to? Ask a mom with three kids working at a south side Wendy's.

“It's hard out here trying to survive off of $7.35, and with me being a single mother trying to raise three kids on my own, it's very hard. I'm only working 15 hours a week, so my checks are like $225 every two weeks.”

Alicia Snider survives because she draws food stamps, so she and other protestors packed a St. Louis city hall hearing room asking the state and the city to raise the minimum wage.

Fast food workers say their wages actually cost taxpayers money because their wages are so low they have to get by on some form of public assistance, like food stamps.

A new study from the universities of Illinois and California shows more than half of all fast food workers have to depend on public assistance because they're paid so little. The study estimates that costs Missouri taxpayers $150 million a year and Illinois taxpayers $370 million.

Martin Rafanan, with Missouri Jobs With Justice, explains, “These corporations are making billions of dollars in profit. They're not paying their workers fairly, and as a result our community suffers.”

These workers say the answer is to raise the minimum wage. Conservative economists, like David Stokes with the Show-Me Institute, say that would be a mistake, “Some of them would gain from an increase in the minimum wage, there's no doubt about it. But the problem is, some of them are going to also lose their jobs, and they're going to be on public assistance a lot more if they've lost their job completely.”

But Taco Bell employee Krystal McLemore says she needs the money – now, “We’re two months behind on our rent, so we’re more than $1,000 behind on rent, my light bill is behind, my gas isn’t even turned on and it’s getting cold.”

A situation that probably isn't changing, given the wages in fast food.

Bills to raise the minimum wage have been introduced in both the Missouri general assembly and the St. Louis board of aldermen.

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