Why do fast-food workers strike?

No occupation is lower paid across the board, argues this article. Fast-food workers are pressing a demand for pay of at least $15 an hour, far more than the $9 or so that is typical for the industry. Here’s how their wages compare with other jobs in the economy.

By , Christian Science Monitor Staff writer / May 15, 2014

Fast food workers and supporters protest low wages outside a Krispy Kreme store, Thursday, May 15, 2014, in Atlanta.David Goldman/AP

As fast-food workers and labor organizers used a nationwide day of protest to demand pay of at least $15 per hour in the industry, their motivations were summed up in different ways.

Some workers talked of wanting to earn enough to cover more than their rent.

Strike organizers argued that the industry’s typical pay of about $9 an hour is not a “living wage.” (Working 35 hours per week at that rate nets $16,380 per year. Although that’s above the official poverty line for one or two people, it doesn’t go far.)

Selmira Wilson, a protester in Miami who works at McDonalds, said that to support her three children she cleans offices at night “just to get by,” according to a Reuters report.

On top of those, here’s one more factor to tuck into the mix: No occupation out of the more than 1,300 tracked by the US Labor Department is lower paid. Continue reading

Tracking the Fast Food Protest

Alan Pyke and Adam Peck  May 15, 2014
Think Progress
Today is the biggest strike in fast food history and it’s phenomenal. Actions in support of $15/hour wages and the right to form a union without retaliation have spread across the globe. Workers went on strike in 158 American cities, according to FastFoodGlobal.org, including in 56 U.S. cities where there had not been a strike previously, International worker solidarity actions are taking place in 93 international cities spread across 36 countries.

As fast food workers strike in 150 U.S. cities Thursday and solidarity protests spring up in 30 other countries, it’s worth a look back at how their cause grew from a handful of people to a globe-spanning movement. Continue reading

Fast Food Workers Act Locally, Globally

Fast food workers undertook job actions of various sort against their restaurants in many cities around the world. Click here.  A video feature on faces of striking workers is here. Video from USA of workers in NY is here.

Forbes magazine offered this,

Fast-food workers strike across U.S.

  @CNNMoney May 15, 2014: 11:24 AM ET

fast food worker strike 051514Fast food workers gathered in New York last week to announce the global strikes that are taking place today.

Fast-food workers walked off their jobs in dozens of cities on Thursday, demanding a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

Union organizers say the strikes will reach 150 U.S. cities and several countries.

Danny Rosa said he started striking at 5 a.m. at the Burger King in Dorchester, Mass., where he works. He and a group of co-workers shouted the slogan, “Fight for $15 and union.”

“I am proud that I am striking and I am trying to get a better life,” Rosa said. “I am fighting for everyone in fast food.”

Rosa planned to travel to downtown Boston later in the morning so he could meet up with other strikers at a Burger King there.

Rosa is 19 years old and lives with his mother and older brother and sister. He wants his hourly wage, now $9 an hour, to go to $15 so he can eventually move out.

Chad Tall who works at Taco Bell, a unit of Yum! Brands, was also striking with other workers outside a McDonald’s in New York.

“We’re here to get $15 and a union, we’re here to strike, we’re here to make some noise and we’re here to disrupt because that’s the only way to get their attention,” Tall said.

Nakiel Clemons said he went on strike this morning outside the Durham, North Carolina, Burger King where he works. He is headed to Raleigh later today.

Nakiel is 33 years old and has a 1-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son. He earns $7.45 an hour and says he can’t survive on that.

“I can’t worry about my manager seeing me on the strike line, I have to speak out.” said Nakiel.

Currently, the median pay for fast-food workers is just over $9 an hour, or about $18,500 a year. That’s roughly $4,500 lower than the Census Bureau’s poverty threshold level of $23,000 for a family of four.

The “Fight for $15” campaign started in New York in November 2012, when 200 fast-food workers demanded $15 and the right to form a union without retaliation.

Union organizers say the movement is credited with elevating the debate about inequality in the U.S. and helping raise the minimum wage in some states.

Earlier this year, workers in three states filed class-action suits against McDonald’s alleging widespread wage theft.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, McDonald’s said worker protests might force it to raise wages this year.

On the Faith and Justice Service and Rally, Riverside Church

Low Wage Workers And Clergy Walk To Riverside Church In Harlem
Read more at http://www.harlemworldmag.com/low-wage-workers-clergy-walk-riverside-church-harlem/#ltK1xf7irXyvg1Sm.99


Fast Food Workers: We Will Strike for Wages, Union

From The New York Daily News:

Fast food workers from across the boroughs skipped their shifts Wednesday and brought their beef to Sixth Ave. in Manhattan, promising another citywide walkout next week to highlight their growing frustration.

“The economy is so tough right now,” said Elizabeth Rene, a Kingsborough College student from Flatbush who has worked at multiple McDonald’s in the city since 2006, including the W. 28th St. store that served as the site for Wednesday’s rally.

“It’s really difficult,” she added. “I have experience. I’ve worked at other locations, and I’m still taking home $7.25 an hour after taxes.” Continue reading

The Faith and Justice Walk at Riverside Church, NY

Posted on Huffington Post: 05/06/2014 5:04 pm EDT Updated: 05/06/2014 5:59 pm EDT
Senior Minister Emeritus, Riverside Church, NY

All throughout history, clergy of all faiths and denominations have been deeply involved in the fight for civil rights and for fair and just treatment for all people.

Here in the United States, priests, ministers, rabbis and clergy of other faiths took part in — or supported — the lunch-counter sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1960, and later as they spread to South Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi and all through the South.

Faith leaders of all stripes joined hands with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others as they marched on Washington, D.C., in 1963 and then through the streets of Selma, Montgomery and Birmingham where, in September 1963, four young black girls attending Sunday School were murdered when racists bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church. Continue reading

Maurice Royal, 32

I’m an artist at heart, a cartoonist. I just need a chance.

I was working at two different Burger Kings in New York, a total of about 20 hours, but then they cut me to one and it was just too much effort at those prices – those 10 hours at $8 an hour would not pay for an apartment…

I’ve been staying at a men’s shelter on the Bowery. I did try to stay with my cousin at my grandfather’s apartment in Harlem in public housing – he was staying with a girlfriend at the time – but it did not work out. My cousin would party a bit and word got out to the housing people and they said it was against the rules for us to be staying there. So I ended up at the men’s shelter, and I’m trying to hold onto a bit of money to get an apartment. Continue reading

Naquasia LeGrand, 22

Where shall I begin? I could start with my dream to be a center on a WNBA basketball team –- I was good while I was in school, tall too. Or I could talk about bouncing around from Virginia to the Carolinas to New York. Somehow none of it explains directly how I have come to be a leader in the Fast Food workers campaign.

I did like basketball and athletics. And I was good at it.

I started in Brooklyn, and live in Brooklyn now, but my mom left to return to where most of her family was when I was about seven, and when I was eight, she gave me a choice of where I wanted to live. So I have been living with my grandmother in Brooklyn. But there were times of going to school in Virginia or Carolina in between, and my two younger brothers were not given a choice and they stayed down South. Continue reading