LOS ANGELES, Calif. -

Fast food workers in the Los Angeles area are  expected to launch their first strike Thursday, part of a nationwide attempt to  raise their salaries to $15 per hour and form a union. 

   Workers at McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, Taco Bell, El Pollo Loco  and Jack in the Box are expected to participate in the strike, part of what  organizers are calling the largest strike against the industry.

   Workers in more than 50 cities in every region of the continental United  States are also expected to strike, according to organizers, who include SEIU  United Service Workers West.

   Organizers claim fast food workers ``are forced to rely on public  assistance just to make ends meet.''

   The claim was rejected by McDonald's, which released a statement saying  ``the story promoted by the individuals organizing these events does not  provide an accurate picture of what it means to work at McDonald's.''

   ``We respect the strong relationship which exists among McDonald's, our  independent operators and the employees who work in McDonald's restaurants. Our  restaurants remain open, with our dedicated employees providing strong service  to our customers,'' the statement said.

   ``McDonald's aims to offer competitive pay and benefits to our  employees. We provide training and professional development for all of those  who wish to take advantage of those opportunities. Our history is full of  examples of individuals who worked their first job with McDonald's and went on  to successful careers both within and outside of McDonald's.''

   The strike follows one-day walkouts by fast food workers in eight  cities, including New York City, Chicago and Washington, earlier this year.