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Fast-food workers stage largest protests yet

  • Protesting fast food workers fill a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

    Protesting fast food workers fill a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

  • Protesting fast food workers fill a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

    Protesting fast food workers fill a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

  • Protesting fast food workers fill a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

    Protesting fast food workers fill a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

  • David Atten, right, joins others in demonstrating as he presses a sign to the window of a Church's Chicken during a one-day strike coinciding with strikes at other fast food restaurants across the country, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Atlanta. Workers are demanding $15 an hour and the right to form a union without interference from employers. (AP Photo/John Amis)

    David Atten, right, joins others in demonstrating as he presses a sign to the window of a Church's Chicken during a one-day strike coinciding with strikes at other fast food restaurants across the country, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Atlanta. Workers are demanding $15 an hour and the right to form a union without interference from employers. (AP Photo/John Amis)

  • David Atten, right, joins others in demonstrating as he presses a sign to the window of a Church's Chicken during a one-day strike coinciding with strikes at other fast food restaurants across the country, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Atlanta. Workers are demanding $15 an hour and the right to form a union without interference from employers. (AP Photo/John Amis)

    David Atten, right, joins others in demonstrating as he presses a sign to the window of a Church's Chicken during a one-day strike coinciding with strikes at other fast food restaurants across the country, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Atlanta. Workers are demanding $15 an hour and the right to form a union without interference from employers. (AP Photo/John Amis)

  • Protestors demonstrate outside a fast food restaurant on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Los Angeles. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

    Protestors demonstrate outside a fast food restaurant on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Los Angeles. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan speaks at news conference Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013, in Carson, Calif.  Donovan signed a multiyear contract extension with the Galaxy on Wednesday, keeping the high-scoring U.S. national team star with his MLS club. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

    Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan speaks at news conference Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013, in Carson, Calif. Donovan signed a multiyear contract extension with the Galaxy on Wednesday, keeping the high-scoring U.S. national team star with his MLS club. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

  • Kevin Cole protests outside a fast food restaurant on Thursday Aug. 29, 2013 in Los Angeles. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

    Kevin Cole protests outside a fast food restaurant on Thursday Aug. 29, 2013 in Los Angeles. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

  • Kevin Cole protests outside a fast food restaurant on Thursday Aug. 29, 2013 in Los Angeles. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

    Kevin Cole protests outside a fast food restaurant on Thursday Aug. 29, 2013 in Los Angeles. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

  • New York City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, center, accompanied by Minister Patricia Malcolm, left, and New York City Council member and public advocate candidate Letitia James, lead a fast food workers' protest march on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

    New York City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, center, accompanied by Minister Patricia Malcolm, left, and New York City Council member and public advocate candidate Letitia James, lead a fast food workers' protest march on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

  • New York City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, center, accompanied by Minister Patricia Malcolm, left, and New York City Council member and public advocate candidate Letitia James, lead a fast food workers' protest march on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

    New York City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, center, accompanied by Minister Patricia Malcolm, left, and New York City Council member and public advocate candidate Letitia James, lead a fast food workers' protest march on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

  • Protesting fast food workers demonstrate outside a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

    Protesting fast food workers demonstrate outside a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

  • Protesting fast food workers demonstrate outside a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

    Protesting fast food workers demonstrate outside a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

  • Protesting fast food workers demonstrate outside a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

    Protesting fast food workers demonstrate outside a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

  • Protesting fast food workers demonstrate outside a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

    Protesting fast food workers demonstrate outside a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

  • Protesting fast food workers demonstrate outside a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

    Protesting fast food workers demonstrate outside a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

  • Inductee and Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer is recognized during the National Football Foundation Enshrinement Ceremony held Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

    Inductee and Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer is recognized during the National Football Foundation Enshrinement Ceremony held Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

  • Inductee and former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer is recognized during the National Football Foundation Enshrinement Ceremony held Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

    Inductee and former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer is recognized during the National Football Foundation Enshrinement Ceremony held Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

  • Inductee and Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer is recognized during the National Football Foundation Enshrinement Ceremony held Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

    Inductee and Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer is recognized during the National Football Foundation Enshrinement Ceremony held Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

  • Inductee and former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer is recognized during the National Football Foundation Enshrinement Ceremony held Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

    Inductee and former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer is recognized during the National Football Foundation Enshrinement Ceremony held Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

  • Lea Noel gets support from a passerby as she and other demonstrators protest low wages outside a Church's Chicken fast food restaurant, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Atlanta. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/John Amis)

    Lea Noel gets support from a passerby as she and other demonstrators protest low wages outside a Church's Chicken fast food restaurant, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Atlanta. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/John Amis)

  • Lea Noel gets support from a passerby as she and other demonstrators protest low wages outside a Church's Chicken fast food restaurant, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Atlanta. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/John Amis)

    Lea Noel gets support from a passerby as she and other demonstrators protest low wages outside a Church's Chicken fast food restaurant, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Atlanta. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/John Amis)

  • Taco Bell employee Shanise Stitt pickets with other protestors in front of the Church's Chicken fast food restaurant in Detroit on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/Detroit News, David Coates)

    Taco Bell employee Shanise Stitt pickets with other protestors in front of the Church's Chicken fast food restaurant in Detroit on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/Detroit News, David Coates)

  • Taco Bell employee Shanise Stitt pickets with other protestors in front of the Church's Chicken fast food restaurant in Detroit on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/Detroit News, David Coates)

    Taco Bell employee Shanise Stitt pickets with other protestors in front of the Church's Chicken fast food restaurant in Detroit on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/Detroit News, David Coates)

  • Protesters display placards outside a Burger King fast food restaurant in Boston, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. The protest was one of several planned in Boston Thursday in what organizers say are similar walkouts planned in dozens of cities to push chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers more. (AP Photo/Boston Herald, Mark Garfinkel) BOSTON GLOBE OUT, METRO BOSTON NEWSPAPER OUT, MAGS OUT, ONLINE OUT

    Protesters display placards outside a Burger King fast food restaurant in Boston, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. The protest was one of several planned in Boston Thursday in what organizers say are similar walkouts planned in dozens of cities to push chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers more. (AP Photo/Boston Herald, Mark Garfinkel) BOSTON GLOBE OUT, METRO BOSTON NEWSPAPER OUT, MAGS OUT, ONLINE OUT

  • Protesters display placards outside a Burger King fast food restaurant in Boston, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. The protest was one of several planned in Boston Thursday in what organizers say are similar walkouts planned in dozens of cities to push chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers more. (AP Photo/Boston Herald, Mark Garfinkel) BOSTON GLOBE OUT, METRO BOSTON NEWSPAPER OUT, MAGS OUT, ONLINE OUT

    Protesters display placards outside a Burger King fast food restaurant in Boston, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. The protest was one of several planned in Boston Thursday in what organizers say are similar walkouts planned in dozens of cities to push chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers more. (AP Photo/Boston Herald, Mark Garfinkel) BOSTON GLOBE OUT, METRO BOSTON NEWSPAPER OUT, MAGS OUT, ONLINE OUT

  • Kevin Cole protests outside a fast food restaurant on Thursday Aug. 29, 2013 in Los Angeles. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

    Kevin Cole protests outside a fast food restaurant on Thursday Aug. 29, 2013 in Los Angeles. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

  • Protesting fast food workers fill a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
  • Protesting fast food workers fill a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
  • Protesting fast food workers fill a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
  • David Atten, right, joins others in demonstrating as he presses a sign to the window of a Church's Chicken during a one-day strike coinciding with strikes at other fast food restaurants across the country, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Atlanta. Workers are demanding $15 an hour and the right to form a union without interference from employers. (AP Photo/John Amis)
  • David Atten, right, joins others in demonstrating as he presses a sign to the window of a Church's Chicken during a one-day strike coinciding with strikes at other fast food restaurants across the country, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Atlanta. Workers are demanding $15 an hour and the right to form a union without interference from employers. (AP Photo/John Amis)
  • Protestors demonstrate outside a fast food restaurant on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Los Angeles. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
  • Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan speaks at news conference Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013, in Carson, Calif.  Donovan signed a multiyear contract extension with the Galaxy on Wednesday, keeping the high-scoring U.S. national team star with his MLS club. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
  • Kevin Cole protests outside a fast food restaurant on Thursday Aug. 29, 2013 in Los Angeles. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
  • Kevin Cole protests outside a fast food restaurant on Thursday Aug. 29, 2013 in Los Angeles. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
  • New York City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, center, accompanied by Minister Patricia Malcolm, left, and New York City Council member and public advocate candidate Letitia James, lead a fast food workers' protest march on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
  • New York City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, center, accompanied by Minister Patricia Malcolm, left, and New York City Council member and public advocate candidate Letitia James, lead a fast food workers' protest march on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
  • Protesting fast food workers demonstrate outside a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
  • Protesting fast food workers demonstrate outside a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
  • Protesting fast food workers demonstrate outside a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
  • Protesting fast food workers demonstrate outside a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
  • Protesting fast food workers demonstrate outside a McDonald's restaurant on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
  • Inductee and Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer is recognized during the National Football Foundation Enshrinement Ceremony held Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
  • Inductee and former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer is recognized during the National Football Foundation Enshrinement Ceremony held Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
  • Inductee and Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer is recognized during the National Football Foundation Enshrinement Ceremony held Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
  • Inductee and former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer is recognized during the National Football Foundation Enshrinement Ceremony held Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
  • Lea Noel gets support from a passerby as she and other demonstrators protest low wages outside a Church's Chicken fast food restaurant, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Atlanta. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/John Amis)
  • Lea Noel gets support from a passerby as she and other demonstrators protest low wages outside a Church's Chicken fast food restaurant, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Atlanta. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/John Amis)
  • Taco Bell employee Shanise Stitt pickets with other protestors in front of the Church's Chicken fast food restaurant in Detroit on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/Detroit News, David Coates)
  • Taco Bell employee Shanise Stitt pickets with other protestors in front of the Church's Chicken fast food restaurant in Detroit on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/Detroit News, David Coates)
  • Protesters display placards outside a Burger King fast food restaurant in Boston, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. The protest was one of several planned in Boston Thursday in what organizers say are similar walkouts planned in dozens of cities to push chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers more. (AP Photo/Boston Herald, Mark Garfinkel) BOSTON GLOBE OUT, METRO BOSTON NEWSPAPER OUT, MAGS OUT, ONLINE OUT
  • Protesters display placards outside a Burger King fast food restaurant in Boston, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. The protest was one of several planned in Boston Thursday in what organizers say are similar walkouts planned in dozens of cities to push chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers more. (AP Photo/Boston Herald, Mark Garfinkel) BOSTON GLOBE OUT, METRO BOSTON NEWSPAPER OUT, MAGS OUT, ONLINE OUT
  • Kevin Cole protests outside a fast food restaurant on Thursday Aug. 29, 2013 in Los Angeles. Fast-food protests were under way Thursday in U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, with organizers expecting the biggest national walkouts yet in a demand for higher wages. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Fast-food workers and their supporters beat drums, blew whistles and chanted slogans yesterday on picket lines in dozens of cities, marking the largest protests yet in their quest for higher wages.

The nationwide day of demonstrations came after similar actions organized by unions and community groups over the past several months. Workers are calling for the right to unionize without interference from employers and for pay of $15 an hour. That’s more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, or $15,000 a year for full-time employees.

Yesterday’s walkouts and protests reached about 60 cities, including New York, Chicago and Detroit, organizers said. But the turnout varied significantly. Some targeted restaurants were temporarily unable to do business because they had too few employees, and others seemingly operated normally.

Ryan Carter, a 29-year-old who bought a $1 cup of coffee at a New York McDonald’s where protesters gathered, said he “absolutely” supported the demand for higher wages.

“They work harder than the billionaires in this city,” he said. But Carter said he didn’t plan to stop his regular trips to McDonald’s.

Jobs in low-wage industries have led the economic recovery. Advocates for a higher minimum wage say that makes it crucial that they pay enough for workers who support families.

The restaurant industry said it already operates on thin margins and insisted that sharply higher wages would lead to steeper prices for customers and fewer opportunities for job seekers.

The Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 2 million workers in health care, janitorial and other industries, has been providing financial support and training for local organizers in the fast-food strikes across the country.

In New York, city council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn joined about 300 to 400 workers and supporters in a march before the group flooded into a McDonald’s near the Empire State Building. Shortly after the demonstration, however, the restaurant seemed to be operating normally, and a few customers said they hadn’t heard of the movement. The same was true at a McDonald’s a few blocks away.

In Atlanta, a TV station showed customers and workers in a McDonald’s going about their business as protesters read a statement inside the restaurant.

The lack of public awareness illustrates the challenge workers face in building wider support. Workers participating in the strikes represent a tiny fraction of the industry. And fast-food jobs are known for their high turnover rates and relatively young workers.

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