Wage Fight Pushes 22-Year-Old KFC Worker Into National Spotlight

Stephen A. Crockett Jr.
Naquasia LeGrand with Stephen Colbert during her appearance on The Colbert Report

Naquasia LeGrand was tired. She had been working at two KFC restaurants, 15 hours at the first and then hiking it across to work whatever hours she could get at the the other store. Some nights after a full day of frying chicken, sweeping floors and serving customers, she would close the store at 1 a.m. and not make it home until after 4 a.m. She was making just $7.25 a month when she was recruited by union organizers to join a campaign for higher pay, the Associated Press reports.

Now the 22-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y., resident has become the face of a national movement to unionize and raise pay for fast-food workers to $15 an hour.


In some 15 months since she took up the cause, LeGrand has been a guest on The Colbert Report, sat in on a strategy session with congressional Democrats and visited President Barack Obama at the White House.

"We never thought it would even get this far," LeGrand told AP. "We're just sick and tired of being sick and tired."

Working with a group called Fast Food Forward, LeGrand has organized small protests of fast-food restaurants and flash strikes throughout New York and more than 100 cities across the country. A newspaper profile led to her Jan. 16 appearance on Colbert, which led to her trip to Washington, AP reports.

Host Stephen Colbert did waste any time getting to the serious questions, "Are you at all afraid the colonel might come after you?"


LeGrand laughed but didn't let the joke throw her off course.

"I worked at two KFCs and still couldn't make it," she told Colbert. "These corporations are making billions and billions of dollars," she added later.


Last month, LeGrand and several other fast-food workers were invited to watch as Obama signed an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay $10.10 an hour.

"I don't care if I was in the back; I was in the White House with the president in front of me!" she said.


LeGrand isn't letting the newfound stardom go to her head.

"It's an opportunity for me to represent all of the workers around the country," she told AP. "So I got to make sure I do things right, make sure I get our message out there, what we want, what's our demands and, you know, set it straight."


Read more at the Associated Press.

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