(WMC) - Rallying for $15 minimum wages and the right to form a union without retaliation, strikers gathered at the corner of Lamar and Deadrick avenues targeting major chains like Burger King and McDonald's.
Many workers said they have education, but cannot find a job with decent living wages.
"There are people with degrees that work at Burger King, you have people with degrees that work in fast food, it's the way the economy is set up," protester Antonio Catagy explained.
Protesters in Memphis were reportedly joined by thousands of fast food workers in their fight for $15 in more than 150 cities.
Bringing their children onto the picket line to make their point, workers were determined to have their voices heard and at one point blocked traffic.
In a statement McDonald's wrote:
"McDonald's restaurants are open for business as usual and welcoming customers. We've had no reports thus far of service disruptions. We reiterate that these are not "strikes" but are staged demonstrations in which people are being transported to fast-food restaurants. And, we have received reports that some participants are being paid, up to $500, to protest and get arrested.
At McDonald's we respect everyone's rights to peacefully protest. The topic of minimum wage goes well beyond McDonald's- it affects our country's entire workforce. McDonald's and our independent franchisees support paying our valued employees fair wages aligned with a competitive marketplace. We believe that any minimum wage increase should be implemented over time so that the impact on owners of small and medium-sized businesses – like the ones who own and operate the majority of our restaurants – is manageable. Additionally, we believe that any increase needs to be considered in a broad context, one that considers, for example, the impact of the Affordable Care Act and its definition of "full time" employment, as well as the treatment, from a tax perspective, of investments made by businesses owners.
It's important to know approximately 90% of our U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by franchisees who set wages according to job level and local and federal laws. McDonald's does not determine wages set by our more than 3,000 U.S. franchisees."
Still, workers we spoke to said there was no gimmick, but a daily reality.
"Just last week I got my check and it was $300, my rent is due tomorrow, it's $349, my light bill is $162. How am suppose to keep a roof over my kids head?" questioned Lakita Harris.