DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Workers in Michigan are among those turning up the heat on McDonald’s and other fast-food companies with protests calling for higher employee pay.

Workers protested Thursday morning at McDonald’s restaurants in cities including Detroit and Flint, with dozens of people marching outside.

The planned global demonstrations build on a campaign by unions to bring attention to the plight of low-wage workers and get the public behind the idea of a federal $15-an-hour wage. Businesses say significant wage increases would hurt their ability to create jobs.

The protests, which began in late 2012, are being backed by the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 2 million members. Restaurants in Michigan have been the site of employee actions during earlier rounds of protests.

According to protest organizers, nine fast food worker spontaneously walked off the job at a Detroit McDonald’s Thursday to join the protest.  Several potential customers at Flint and Pontiac restaurants reportedly changed their minds about ordering food, or honked their horns in support as they passed by.

“There’s strength in numbers and in staying power, and today we showed again that we’re going to fight these corporations until we win,” said Pastor W.J. Rideout III, who took part in Thursday’s protests. “From wage theft to low wages, this industry needs to fix the way it treats its workers.”

Workers from Subway, Burger King and Wendy’s rallied in 150 cities nationwide and at least 33 countries, organizers said.

Michigan is one of three U.S. states where class action lawsuits against McDonald’s for wage theft were filed in March. The suits ask that McDonald’s, which earned $5.6 billion in 2013, pay back the stolen wages and stop its illegal theft of workers’ pay.

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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