Some locals side with employees in fast food wage war

By Michelle Costanza

August 30, 2013 Updated Aug 30, 2013 at 8:01 AM EDT

Endicott, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Though thousands of employees protested nationwide on Thursday, they were not the only ones with big opinions on the small salaries.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25.

That means that if employees working 40 hours a week earn a yearly salary of a little more than $15,000.

According to the Center for Poverty Research, the poverty threshold for a family of four was just over $22,000 last year.

The center reports if a minimum wage worker is the only source of income, just 65 percent of the amount needed to meet the family's basic needs is fulfilled.

With inflation, debt and the rising cost of living, manly locals are siding with employees, saying that compensation for the amount of responsibility and hours worked is not enough.

"If you're making the seven and a quarter, you're basically working poor. I mean it would probably just be easier to just be on welfare. I'm not saying that's the way to go, but it's just really tough on these people," said Ed Ricciuti, of Endwell.

While many agree that wages should be increased, Ricciuti added the more than doubled salary that protesters are requesting may be a bit steep in some cases.

"I can see that that would just be a tremendous burden on a smaller company," he said, "but you know, it can't stay the way it is obviously, because I don't know how people are going to get by."

The fight for a fatter paycheck may be an uncertain battle at this point, but protesters and supporters alike say their opinions won't change. Endicott resident Chuck Madine said times are only getting harder for minimum wage earners.

"They're absolutely justified," he said.

"In 1975, the minimum, the minimum wage for the hour would be enough to buy seven gallons of gas, today you can't even buy two. We're constantly falling behind," added Madine.

The dollar menu may appealing for those looking for a quick, inexpensive meal, but many who frequent the drive-through said if it meant workers were getting fairer pay, they wouldn't mind paying a couple extra bucks for their fries.