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Kamala Harris visits Las Vegas McDonald's to protest with workers

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 6/15/2019 Ed Komenda

a group of people holding a sign: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, center, D-Calif., speaks to people protesting for higher minimum wage outside of McDonald's, Friday, June 14, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, center, D-Calif., speaks to people protesting for higher minimum wage outside of McDonald's, Friday, June 14, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
© John Locher, AP

LAS VEGAS – As a college student, Kamala Harris worked at McDonald's.

On Friday afternoon, she visited a Las Vegas location of her former workplace to push for a $15 minimum wage – all while campaigning for a new job: President of the United States.

"I did the french fries and I did the ice cream," said the Democratic senator from California, surrounded by workers of the fast-food franchise as they rallied around the country demanding higher pay and the right to a union. "There was not a family relying on me to pay the rent, put food on table, and keep the bills paid by the end of the month – but the reality of McDonald's is that a majority of the folks who are working there today are relying on that income to sustain a household and a family."

Harris is among the majority of Democratic presidential candidates who support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, up from $7.25.

“If we want to talk about these golden arches being a symbol of the best of America, well, the arches are falling short,” Harris said. “We have got to recognize that working people deserved livable wages.”

McDonald’s Corp. has said it recognizes workers’ rights to join labor unions. The company also says it doesn’t control wages in their franchise restaurants but that the average starting wage at corporate-owned restaurants exceeds $10 an hour.

As temperatures approached triple digits Friday afternoon, Harris chanted and helped carry a large banner as she, fast food workers and other activists marched through the parking lot of a McDonald’s just east of the Las Vegas Strip.

Union workers held signs of the #FightFor15 campaign – and they chanted:

"No fifteen, no peace!"

"If we don't get our fifteen, we don't get not peace!"

"We work, we sweat, put fifteen dollars on our check!"

Michael Collins, a 68-year-old registered nurse at University Medical Center and SEIU Nevada Local 1107 member, watched Harris in the crowd.

"These minimum wage jobs don't have any opportunity for people to make a living and support a family," he said. "It's just not possible.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Obama housing secretary Julian Castro and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have all appeared with employees of the fast-food giant around the country. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker were expected to join McDonald’s workers at a rally in South Carolina on Saturday.

Earlier Friday, Harris toured a law clinic at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas that helps immigrants with deportation proceedings and other legal matters. She then met with some of the law clinic’s students and some activists and described her plan to tackle some immigration matters if elected president.

Harris said that upon being sworn in, she would immediately pursue a series of executive actions to make it easier for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally to remain in the country and work.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ed Komenda writes about Las Vegas for the Reno Gazette Journal and USA Today Network. Do you care about democracy? Then support local journalism by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal right here

This article originally appeared on Reno Gazette Journal: Kamala Harris visits Las Vegas McDonald's to protest with workers

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