“A lot of workers are scared they could face hour cuts,” said Kudler. “People are scared to stand up for themelves.” But others, said Kudler, are emboldened when they see their co-workers attend protests.
“Many people say they were just at their wit’s end,” said Kudler said, adding that they have “nothing left to lose.”
At a Chipotle restaurant on Walnut Street along the marchers' route, and home to upscale retail stores, Jesus Mendoza, 19, was also unaware of the minimum wage movement, and he expressed skepticism about its goals.
“That would be great, but it doesn’t seem possible,” said Mendoza. “I’m pretty content here.” He said he earns $9 an hour, but could see a raise to $11.
At a nearby Starbucks, workers said they appreciated the health and education benefits the company offers for full time workers. But they said their wages, even with tips, don’t keep up with the cost of living.
“I make just shy of $10 and hour as a supervisor. Baristas start at $7.60. Performance-based reviews get you a few cents extra every six months,” said Jane Gagliard, 23.
The baristas didn’t know about the minimum wage protest until it passed by their door.
Gagliard stressed that Starbucks treats its employees better than a lot of companies, but that “the wages are similar everywhere.”
“My rent’s about average and it takes up almost a whole paycheck,” said Gagliard. “Factor in utilities and feeding yourself and you don’t have a ton of wiggle room left at the end of the month.”
One worker said she relies on Starbuck’s leftovers for food. An unpredictable schedule also means it’s hard for them to get a second job. All four employees on shift agreed that $15 would really help.
“Two weeks with forty hours each, and it all goes to bills,” said barista Jose Gonzalez.