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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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July 30th, 2013
06:44 PM ET

Rep. Ellison: Fast food CEOs make millions, their workers deserve higher wages

From New York to Kansas City, workers are walking off the job asking fast food chains to, as some protesters chanted, "supersize their wages."

They say doubling the minimum wage, from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour, is the only way they can realistically make ends meet.

Rep. Keith Ellison, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, not only supports fast food workers in their fight for higher wages, he joined them on the picket lines.

Some economists say a hike in the wage will reduce hiring or at least reduce hours, and that the recovery right now is too fragile to start that chain reaction that will ultimately hurt workers.

"Funny how the economy is not too fragile for CEOs to be paid like $4.9 million in four months" like the CEO of Wendy's, said Ellison.

There are concerns that imposing a higher federal minimum wage will speed up plans to phase out workers all together. The Economic Policies Institute, a pro-business group, said there are already experiments to order from electronic menus on iPads or tablets.

"A fast food restaurant that relies on people to serve, to welcome, to make proper food, to make sure it's made in a quality way, to make sure that the place is clean and well-managed, and in good working order – you need people for that, so I doubt that that is true," said Ellison.

President Barack Obama said he wants to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour, but is the White House doing enough to make that a reality?

"Because we don't have an increase in the minimum wage yet, no one, including me, has done enough, including the president," said Ellison. "We all got to do more to make sure that these jobs pay livable wages."

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