Hundreds of low wage workers march through downtown Chicago - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Hundreds of low wage workers march demanding higher pay

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Hundreds of low wage workers and their supporters marched through the streets of downtown Chicago Tuesday afternoon, demanding that federal and state lawmakers increase the minimum wage to at least 10 dollars an hour.

In the crowd were fast food and retail employees, janitors, cashiers, laborers, and more.

David Craig works 40 hours a week for home depot moving palettes in warehouses.

"It's very hard living on these wages because the price of everything is going up outrageous nowadays," Craig said.

This father of two makes more than the federal minimum wage set at $7.25 and the Illinois rate of $8.25. For Craig, a one dollar an hour increase would mean $2,000 more a year.

"It'll make a bigger difference than it is now, can't survive of $9 an hour, not possible," Craig said.

Then there's Yessenia Yaber, a single mother of 5 children living in the Southside.

"I work at Wal-Mart, I'm a cashier and I make $15,000 a year," Yaber said.

On her salary, she says she struggles to make ends meet every month. This rally was part of a nationwide protest, supporting a bill introduced by Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. to raise the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour. A similar bill was proposed in the senate. SB 1565 introduced in the Illinois general assembly would raise the state's minimum to $10.65 cents by 2014.

Proponents say an increase will encourage Americans to spend more. However, Usman Ali, owner of 7-11 on N. Michigan Avenue, isn't convinced.

"I personally think It will hurt small business owners, as it is, I pay 9 - 10 an hour and then they'll expect 12-13 an hour," Ali said.

Ali says increasing the minimum wage will force him to make cuts. Especially in a sluggish economy where he says he's already seen a 15 percent decrease in business.

"I would probably have to lay off workers, I would have to work myself to cut payroll down," Ali said.

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