Fast-food workers in San Diego, nationwide strike for $15 per hour minimum wage

SAN DIEGO - A few of San Diego's fast-food employees joined a nationwide demonstration Thursday aimed at raising hourly pay to $15 and unionizing.

Demonstrators held up signs in front of a downtown Wendy's on Broadway. On the West Coast, Service Employees Union International was behind many demonstrations, which were planned 50 cities around the United States.

"My experience is we don't make enough here," Debra Flores, a 20-year-old single mother who told 10News she makes $8 an hour. "It's minimum wage. Everybody here at Wendy's has kids and they don't make enough to support their kids."

Flores, who has a 2-year-old daughter, said she was nervous for being at the rally with her bosses sitting in the building behind her.

"I feel scared knowing that I might lose my job or I could lose it, but it's helping everybody," Flores said.

San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez also spoke at Thursday's rally.

A spokesperson for the California Restaurant Association said restaurants employ 1 out of 12 people in San Diego County. In San Diego city, nearly 52,000 people work at restaurants. According to the association, nearly half are teenagers.

Organizers of the rally deny that claim, saying that the median age of fast-food employees is 28.

Wendy's spokesman Bob Bertini issued this response:

"We are proud to provide a place where thousands of people, who come to us asking for a job, can enter the workforce at a starting wage, gain skills and advance with us or move on to something else."

A spokesperson for McDonalds said the rallies are not accurate portrayals of what it means to work at McDonalds.

"McDonald's aims to offer competitive pay and benefits to our employees," said a spokesperson in a written statement.

The movement started in New York City this past fall, and workers in Chicago, Kansas City, Detroit and other cities joined them in April and July.