Fast-food industry officials insist that their restaurants are running on very low profit margins, and that significant increases in the amount they pay workers would force businesses to shut down and thus provide fewer jobs.
The top House Republican on the General Assembly's Labor Committee, state Rep. Richard A. Smith of New Fairfield, warned during the minimum-wage debate in May that the high cost of labor in this state "just suffocates our businesses."
Critics of the call for a "living wage" for these workers warn that organizers could end up hurting the very people they're trying to help.
Supporters of the fast-food workers' job action point out that the top executives at these huge fast-food chains are making millions of dollars a year, and that there is a massive and growing disparity in pay between employees and employers in the U.S.
"The gap between rich and poor – especially in this state – is widening," Olsen says.
"They're fighting for $15 an hour and the right to organize a union," Farrell says of the fast-food workers. "So the people who work in these places are coming together... and it transcends any particular corporation."
"I'd be happy to pay five cents more for my Big Mac if it would give workers a decent wage," says Olsen.