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Fast-food strikes and protests planned for 100 US cities

Fast-food workers in about 100 cities are planning to walk off the job on Thursday, Dec. 5, to call attention to the difficulties of living on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

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Protesting fast food workers demonstrate outside a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, in New York, Aug. 29. Strikes are planned in about 100 US cities for Thursday, Dec. 5.

Richard Drew/AP/File

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Fast-food workers in about 100 US cities will walk off the job this Thursday, organizers say, which would mark the largest effort yet in a push for higher pay.

The actions would build on a campaign that began about a year ago to call attention to the difficulties of living on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, or about $15,000 a year for a full-time employee.

The protests are part of a growing push by labor unions, Democrats and other worker advocacy groups to raise wages in low-wage sectors. Last month, President Barack Obama said he would back a Senate measure to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10. That's more than a dollar higher than the $9 an hour rate he previously proposed.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised a vote on the wage hike by the end of the year. But the measure is not expected to gain traction in the House, where Republican leaders oppose it.

Protesters are calling for pay of $15 an hour, although many see the figure as a rallying point rather than a near-term possibility.

It's not clear how large the turnout will be at any given location, or whether the walkouts will be enough to disrupt operations. Similar actions this summer had varying results, with some restaurants unable to serve customers and others seemingly unaffected.

The National Restaurant Association, an industry lobbying group, called the demonstrations a "campaign engineered by national labor groups," and said the vast majority of participants were union protesters rather than workers.

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