Protesters demanding higher wages block entrance to North Charleston McDonald’s

Fast-food workers protest for higher wages in front of the McDonald’s at Rivers and McMillan avenues early Wednesday morning.

On a day when many Americans think about money and taxes, a group of fast-food workers blocked the entrance to a North Charleston restaurant to demand a higher minimum wage Wednesday morning.

About 20 people affiliated with the Fight for $15 movement held up signs and chanted outside the McDonald’s at Rivers and McMillan avenues. They started shortly after 6 a.m. and went on for about an hour, chanting slogans such as “can’t survive on $7.25.”

After a while, the group headed toward the restaurant but found the doors locked so they couldn’t get inside. They blocked an entrance for several minutes until a North Charleston police car showed up. Then they went back on the sidewalk while the officer sat keeping an eye on them.

The group consisted of workers at fast-food restaurants in the Charleston area, according to spokesman Jeremy Johnson of North Charleston, who works at an Arby’s. They planned to board a bus for Atlanta later in the morning to take part in a protest organized by the Southern Workers Organizing Committee.

The group has held several protests in the Charleston area. In September, protesters demanding higher wages sat down in the middle of Spring Street and remained until police cited 18 of them for disorderly conduct.

In a statement Wednesday, the National Council of Chain Restaurants responded to the Fight for $15 protests taking place across the country.

“Not surprisingly, the leadership in organized labor refuses to acknowledge simple facts,” said the trade group’s executive director, Rob Green. “First, the marketplace is working as several major employers are taking steps to adapt to the improving job market by adjusting their wages and benefits for employees.

“Second, federal government wage mandates higher than local communities can afford do not help individuals earning a starting wage,” he said. “The job markets in Seattle or Sacramento are different than local conditions in San Antonio and Sandusky.”

Bartees Cox, a spokesman for the national Fight for $15 cause, said organizers were busy helping with Wednesday’s protests and not immediately available to respond to the National Council of Chain Restaurants’ comments.

Brad Nettles contributed to this report. Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.