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Pro-labor groups march through Boston

Coalition of demonstrators call for increased minimum wage, unionization service workers

As President Barack Obama wrapped up his Labor Day visit to the city, a few hundred demonstrators were marching through Boston Monday morning to fight for better working conditions and a $15 minimum wage.

A coalition of pro-labor groups representing workers in Boston-area fast food restaurants, hotels and the Logan Airport met for a pre-march rally in Boston Common.

Among the hundreds was Darius Cephas, a 24-year-old Dorchester resident who told Metro he earns $9.25 working at McDonald’s.

RELATED: McDonald's workers to ask: Where is our raise?

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“We’re tired of working hard and not getting paid for that,” said Cephas, a national organizing committee leader with the Fight for $15, a national movement to increase the minimum wage. Low-wage employers, he said, “force you to rely on government assistance.”

The minimum wage in Massachusetts is $9, set torise to $11 by 2017.

“It’s not just teenagers,” said Jena Benson, 18, of Dorchester, in an interview. Families, too, face the struggle of living paycheck-to-paycheck, the Dunkin’ Donuts worker told Metro. She said she makes $9.50 at a Seaport outpost of the coffee chain.

RELATED:Mass. Senate approves $11 minimum wage hike

In bilingual speeches on the Common, speakers celebrated the state’s passage of a ballot question mandating paid sick time for employers with 11 or more employees, new protections for domestic workers passed in 2014 and a new raise for airport workers to $11 an hour.

But Roxana Rivera, a vice president of theService Employees International Union, said in an interview with Metro there is “still a lot of work that remains to get done.

“These wins are changing the lives of workers and their families across the state. But we are winning because we are fighting,” Rivera said from a podium on the Boston Common Gazebo. “We are fighting to come out of the shadows.”

 
 
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