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Michigan fast-food workers demand $15 dollars an hour

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio
A small group pickets in front of a Pizza Hut on Lansing's south side

Fast-food workersin Flint, Detroit, Pontiac, Lansing and other Michigan cities hit the picket lines today.

They are demanding a big increase in the minimum wage.

In Lansing, a small group of protesters chanted and waved signs outside a Pizza Hut.  

Tina Ervin has worked at the pizza joint for the past year. She says she’s having a hard time supporting herself and her three children on $7.40 an hour. Ervin is hopeful the national campaign to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour will succeed.

“I’m raising three kids alone and I need more money. That’s the bottom line. It’s just about more money,” says Ervin. “We have had some success in Seattle and other states. So hopefully Michigan will follow suit. That’s all we (we're) hoping (for).”

Charles Ballard is an economist at Michigan State University. He says even a small increase of two or three dollars in the minimum wage will probably lead to some employee layoffs. Ballard says he can’t project what doubling the minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour would mean.

“We’ve never done that in American history,” says Ballard, “If we were to double the minimum wage we would be in uncharted territory, so it’s hard to tell how many jobs were be adversely affected by that.”

Fast-food industry officials say increasing the minimum wage will force them to increase their prices and reduce staff.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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