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Fast food strikes across US cities show the American dream is becoming a nightmare

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Dec. 12, 2013

IT'S famed as a land of opportunity where anyone willing to work hard can make dreams come true.

But inside America a war is being waged between a shrinking middle class and the wealthy 'one per cent' that employ them.

Overnight, thousands of workers walked off the job in McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy's among other outlets in 100 cities around the country, in protest at the $7.25 minimum wage which they say is impossible to live on.

It's the largest event yet in a movement that is gaining momentum, as workers vent their anger at the divide between the haves and have nots.

Darrien Walker works at a Michigan McDonald's for 40 hours a week earning just $7.45 an hour.

He joined the group fighting for the minimum wage to be increased to $15 an hour, to bring it into line with today's living standards.

"I would personally like to see a substantial increase in pay because even though the job is simple the fast food demand is higher than ever which can make things difficult. $7.40 is not enough," he said.

The campaign is being orchestrated by advocacy groups like Fast Food Forward and Low Pay is Not OK, along with traditional unions like Service Employees International, which represents more than 2 million people in the healthcare and cleaning industries.

Union President Mary Kay Henry said the goal is to change the conversation about what these jobs are worth.

"These are no longer jobs being done by teenagers who need extra money. These are jobs being done by adults that can't find any other work," she said.

So far, the groups have used social media to shame the corporate giants into action.

Low Pay is Not OK recently embarrassed McDonald's by lampooning a series of budgeting tips which assumed workers would have a second job, while another video took aim at their providing holiday tips like breaking your food into smaller pieces to make it last longer.