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Clergy, activists rally at McDonald’s to urge raising minimum wage

By April 20, 2015January 15th, 2016No Comments

by Sarai Flores
Philadelphia Inquirer
April 14, 2015

Two Philadelphia clergy members visited the McDonald’s restaurant at Broad and Arch Streets on Sunday afternoon with a group of activists, blessed the hands of a restaurant employee, and spoke about “God’s call for economic justice.”

The surprise showing was part of the organization POWER’s effort to have the minimum working wage raised to $15 an hour and improve working conditions for low-wage employees.

The clergy members used olive oil Sunday to anoint the hands of a McDonald’s employee and two other fast-food workers as a prelude to a national walkout scheduled for Wednesday to protest the need for a higher minimum wage.

POWER officials noted that oil is used in Christian tradition to bless those “called to a special purpose.”

“We believe this is more than an economic issue – this is a moral issue,” said the Rev. Robin Hynicka of the Arch Street United Methodist Church. “We believe that everyone deserves more than enough to be able to have a living wage that can support staffers, that can rebuild neighborhoods, that can contribute to places that are about community development.”

POWER – Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild – is an interfaith action group designed to bring about “justice here and now and seeks to exercise power in the public arena” through its members and networks.

In addition to Hynicka, Bishop Dwayne Royster of the Living Water United Church of Christ (and executive director of POWER) and about a dozen supporters surprised the customers and others at the restaurant.

At first, the group held hands and prayed near the front counter as about a dozen customers looked on. Then Hynicka anointed and blessed the hands of two women who accompanied the clergy.

Both women said they work at a Wendy’s restaurant.

Heather Huff, 31, said she had worked at a Wendy’s in North Philadelphia for six months and would take part in Wednesday’s national walkout.

Huff said she usually worked shifts of 10 to 14 hours and was preparing, despite a broken foot, for a 10-hour stint Sunday night.

“I’m still working because I have a family to support and I have bills,” Huff said. “We’re not paid enough to do what we do [with] the hours that we work.”

Hynicka also encouraged the McDonald’s workers to have their hands blessed, but only one man came forward, and the manager on duty did not allow him to identify himself.

The manager, who did not give her name, said the employees were not permitted to be involved in the event.

The visit ended after 10 minutes, and the clergy members and their supporters vowed to continue the effort on Wednesday.

Last weekend, POWER and more than 100 others held a march advocating for an increased minimum wage in an event that coincided with the 47th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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