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Fast food workers protest low wages in Durham

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DURHAM, N.C. -

Fast food workers gathered in Durham Tuesday to protest low wages in their industry saying it costs tax payers billions each year.

A University of Califorina-Berkley study states the fast food industry costs American tax payers $7 billion a year because more than half of the workers have to file for public assistance programs.

The study shows that the median wage is $8.69 an hour and only 13 percent of fast food jobs provide benefits.

"They should increase our pay so we can at least survive," said fast food worker Willietta Dukes. She has worked in the industry for more than 16 years and currently makes $7.65 an hour at Burger King.

"We can at least pay our bills and we don't have to live off these government assistance, because these are taking away from other things that need to be. They can use that money for something else in the legislature," Dukes said.

In North Carolina, there are 66,000 fast food workers. A total of 17 percent of those workers receive Medicaid for adults and 20 percent for kids. And 27 percent of those workers receive food stamps, the study shows.

Tenesha Hueston currently makes $7.75 an hour as a shift manager at Burger King. She said, "In order to provide healthcare for my children, I'm on Medicaid. In order to provide food for my children every month, I am on food stamps. And, it's a little embarrassing when you work as hard as you work to rely on that just to feed your children."

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