Several arrests reported at Pittsburgh fast food workers' protest

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PITTSBURGH —

Several people were arrested Thursday at a protest outside the Wilkinsburg McDonald’s as Pittsburgh area fast-food workers joined the nationwide protest.

About 100 people marched from St. James Church to the fast-food restaurant on Penn Avenue demanding $15 hourly wages and union representation.

“We deserve that,” said Ronald Poole, who identified himself as a worker at the North Side McDonald's.

KFC employee Lolene Germany said she’s paid $7.25 an hour.

“That’s not enough to survive. It’s hard because I’m paycheck to paycheck. I have to pick and choose which bills I’m going to pay each month,” Germany said.

The protesters who were arrested were arraigned on misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly, Wilkinsburg police Chief Ophelia “Cookie” Coleman said.

“They'll probably be fined,” she said.

As of 5:30 p.m., the eight people arrested had all been released.

“We’re sending a message to corporate that we’re here and we’ll fight until we get our $15 and a union,” Germany said.

Thursday’s protest is the latest in a two year fight to raise fast food workers’ pay. Currently, the average pay is just over $9 an hour, putting a worker's salary well below the poverty level.

Many companies say if wages are increased, menu prices will go up. 

The better-pay movement, which is backed financially by the Service Employees International Union and others, has gained national attention at a time when the wage gap between the poor and the rich has become a hot political issue. Many fast-food workers do not make much more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which adds up to about $15,000 a year for 40 hours a week.

President Barack Obama mentioned the campaign this week at a Labor Day appearance in Milwaukee.

Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.