KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Most mornings last year, Terrance Wise left home before his three daughters woke up, to head to his $9.30-an-hour job at Burger King.
And after working his second job of the day, as a $7.47-an-hour cook for Pizza Hut, he returned home 16 hours later, around 11 p.m., after his daughters had gone to sleep.
“The kids started saying, ‘Daddy, we never get to see you,' ” said Mr. Wise, 35.
The situation worsened when Burger King cut back his hours and his fiancée was sidelined from work with a back injury. Despite his working two jobs, he and his family were evicted from their apartment, leaving them homeless for three months.
His financial struggles while working in low-paying fast-food jobs since the age of 16 help to explain — not surprisingly to many friends and colleagues — why he has emerged as the leading voice of a nationwide movement of fast-food workers clamoring for a higher wage. Two years after 200 fast-food workers walked out in a one-day strike in New York City, the walkouts have spread across the country and become the largest labor protests in the nation in years.