McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s workers among those to walk off their jobs as movement continues to grow; home care workers join as movement spreads to new industry “All across the country right now there’s a national movement going on made up of fast-food workers organizing to lift wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity. There is no denying a simple truth. America deserves a raise. Give America a raise. …You know what, if I were looking for a job that lets me build some security for my family, I’d join a union. If I were busting my butt in the service industry and wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, I’d join a union. …I’d want a union looking out for me.” -- President Obama, Sept 1, 2014, Milwaukee, WI Coming off a convention at which they vowed to do “whatever it takes” to win $15 and the right to form a union, fast-food workers in more than 150 cities will walk off their jobs Thursday as their movement intensifies and continues to spread. A day after President Obama praised their campaign, workers from Oakland, Calif. to Opelika, Ala., said they will strike at the country’s major fast-food restaurants, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC. Workers in Little Rock, Ark. Minneapolis, Minn; and Rochester, NY are among those who will walk off their jobs for the first time.
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JESSICA DESVARIEUX, CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT, TRNN: Fast food workers from all over the world are calling for a raise. All the way from Tokyo, Japan, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and even Stateside in cities like Chicago and Philadelphia, they want a living wage of $15 an hour and the right to unionize without retaliation.This historic mass fast food workers protest took place in 150 cities and 33 countries. And Tanisha Green from Richmond, Virginia, is one fast food worker who protested for a wage increase. TANISHA GREEN, FAST FOOD WORKER, KFC: Right now, all of our fast food workers are still at $7.25 an hour, and we're trying to raise that. We want to be--we work hard, and we also would like to be compensated for as hard as we work. DESVARIEUX: Work that has seen much of a pay increase since the year 2000. According to a new Demos report, the average fast-food worker has seen her total pay increase by just 0.3 percent. And in 2013, she would be making less money, while CEO salaries have gone up. In 2012, the compensation of fast food CEOs was more than 1,200 times the earnings of the average fast food worker.
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. The fast food strikes began on November 29, 2012, with workers at a Manhattan McDonald’s. A few months later, a larger group of New York City fast food workerswalked out. Then low-wage workers in Chicago got in on the act two weeks later. Last May, the strikes jumped to Detroit, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Washington D.C., andSeattle. By late summer, that trickle had become a torrent, with strikes in about 60 cities in August that expanded the campaign to new regions of the country. Then in December, 100 cities saw fast food walk-outs and strikes by other low-wage workers.
Many observers regard such a suggestion as absurd on its face— “economic fantasy at its most delusional and counterproductive,” as my colleague Nick Gillespie put it here on Wednesday. These are low-end jobs in a generally free labor market. Nobody is forcing anybody to work at McDonald’s for $7.50 an hour. Besides, these companies couldn’t function if their labor costs were to double. I mean, who can make money on fast food while paying $15 an hour? But if you look hard enough, you can find some enterprising souls who are doing just that. I first wrote about Moo Cluck Moo this spring, when the high-quality fast-food burger-and-chicken joint on a hardscrabble location in Dearborn Heights, Micighian, was paying $12 an hour.
“We’re asking McDonald’s to be fair and share the billions they make in profits with the workers,” said Marco Mejia of Jobs with Justice. “They are paying minimum wages, and people are going hungry with those wages.” The rallies and strikes came just days after the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) released a report showing that fast-food company CEOs have used taxpayer dollars to fund their own salaries while at the same time reducing taxes owed by their companies. According to the IPS “these CEO pay subsidies are the result of a loophole that allows firms to deduct unlimited amounts from their income taxes for the cost of stock options, certain stock grants, and other forms of so-called ‘performance pay’ for top executives. Put simply: the more corporations pay their CEOs, the less they pay in federal taxes. And ordinary taxpayers wind up footing the bill.”