The strike is the worker’s most powerful tool. The action directly demonstrates the worker’s value — how hospitals don’t run without nurses, how websites don’t run without writers, how schools don’t run without adjunct professors. And with both the Red Cup Day strike and the Double Down strike in 2022, how Starbucks can’t run without its baristas. But the Supreme Court is currently hearing a case that could drastically affect workers’ ability to strike, and thus have huge ramifications for the wave of organizing within the food service industry. Glacier Northwest v. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters concerns the decision of 1959’s San Diego Building Trades Council v. Garmon, which protects unions from being sued for striking. In the case, which the Supreme Court began hearing on January 10, Glacier Northwest, a building material company, claims the Teamsters deliberately timed a 2017 strike so that mixing trucks would be filled with concrete, which could have resulted in damaged equipment and destroyed product.
Chipotle workers in Lansing, Michigan, formed the fast food chain’s first recognized union in the U.S., voting 11-3 on August 25 to join Teamsters Local 243. It’s the latest in a string of new organizing breakthroughs at prominent national brands, from Starbucks to Apple to Trader Joe’s to REI. Of all the employers that have seen union drives over the past year, Chipotle—with 100,000 employees across 3,000 stores, and long-term plans to double its footprint in North America—is the most similar to Starbucks. They’re both outliers in fast food: their stores are primarily corporate-owned, rather than franchised out to smaller operators.
Workers in America’s fast-food and retail sectors who worked on the frontlines through the dangers of the Covid-19 pandemic are continuing a trend of strikes and protests over low wages, safety concerns and sexual harassment issues on the job. The Covid-19 pandemic has incited a resurgence of interest and support for the US labor movement and for low-wage workers who bore the brunt of Covid-19 risks. The unrest also comes as corporations have often reported record profits and showered executives with pay increases, stock buybacks and bonuses, while workers received minimal pay increases. Workers at billion-dollar corporations from Dollar General to McDonald’s still make on average less than $15 an hour while often being forced to work in unsafe, grueling conditions.
Folsom, California - After a pharmacist tells Maria Bernal in January she probably has Covid-19, Bernal goes to the Jack in the Box fast food restaurant where she works with a fever and chills. She can barely read the order screen, she’s so dizzy. To show her manager how sick she is, Bernal places her cold hands on her manager’s face. “Don’t worry, everyone has it, you can still work,” the manager says, according to a complaint filed January 14 with the Sacramento County Public Health department. “Just wear a mask and don’t tell anyone.” Bernal says she worked a double shift that day and continued working with Covid over the next four days. Three of Bernal’s coworkers have joined in the complaint, alleging Covid-related violations of public health guidelines.
The unprecedented pandemic, and the recession it has caused, has led to a sharp increase in food insecurity in the United States. The problem isn’t that there isn’t enough food to go around, but that more and more people are unable to afford to purchase it. Last year the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) recently released a report predicting that the number of people facing extreme hunger could soar to 270 million by the end of 2020 — effectively doubling. What’s leading to these extreme statistics isn’t a lack of availability — it’s that many people simply can’t afford to purchase food. Like with many commodities, capitalist markets are fairly good at producing food, but they are not so efficient at distributing it equitably.
“Cheap And Exploitable Labor”: New Report Shows Food Companies Use Cultural Exchange Program To Recruit Foreign Workers
Imagine you’re a foreign student entering the United States on a summer work visa. You’ve been promised an ice cream-drenched summer filled with opportunities for travel, plus a job that pays enough to fund your next year of college. You get a glowing letter from the Department of State welcoming you to the country. This is the first time anyone has ever compiled a list of the employers that use the program most often. “As a summer work travel participant, you are part of a U.S. Department of State cultural exchange program in which you, like thousands of other summer work travel participants...
After decades of chemical-intensive agriculture, factory farms and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food, and an ongoing war against natural systems and traditional knowledge, America's rural communities, environment and public health are rapidly deteriorating. The fatal harvest of Big Food Inc. includes rural economic decline and depopulation throughout the Americas, forced migration from Mexico and Central America, water and air pollution, aquifer depletion, pollinator and biodiversity destruction, soil erosion and fertility loss, climate destabilization, food contamination and nutrient degradation, and deteriorating public health. Unfortunately, the U.S. Congress and the White House, aided and abetted by collaborators north and south of the border, are still dishing out their standard culinary message: Shut up and eat your GMOs.
Some buzz-killers are complaining that Burger King doesn’t really care about Net Neutrality and is just trying to exploit a hot-button topic. To them, I say: I know! Isn’t it great?! Net Neutrality is so popular right now that it’s being used to sell hamburgers. This supposedly obscure issue, one that all the political experts spent years trying to dismiss and rename, is so prominent that Burger-freaking-King wants a piece of it. Right now Net Neutrality ranks high on the list of concerns of millennial voters — right up there with marijuana legalization. If nothing else, BK knows its target demo. The unprecedented public response since Ajit Pai’s FCC moved to kill Net Neutrality in December has now seized the attention of Madison Avenue. This is new territory. And it’s delicious.
Gov. Reynolds and Republican state lawmakers have waged a string of attacks on workers’ unions in recent years. Last February, then-Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law a bill endorsed by then-Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds curbing collective bargaining rights for thousands of public sector workers in the state. The law strips workers of the right to bargain over healthcare and other benefits and forces workers to recertify their union before each bargaining session. In March, Branstad signed into law a bill passed by the Republican legislature blocking all localities from raising their minimum wage, nullifying local wage increases that had been passed in Polk, Johnson, Linn and Wapello Counties.
By Clint Rainey for Grub Street - Despite him using the word “freely to describe black people,” police told Ford it wasn’t a criminal act, so there wasn’t much they could do. Ford took to Facebook instead, where her post quickly exploded. While she says the site deleted the original for some reason, her updates have received plenty of attention: It didn’t take long for Dairy Queen’s headquarters to take action. It released a statement Thursday that called Crichton’s behavior “inexcusable, reprehensible, and unacceptable,” and then, on Friday, the chain announced that Crichton’s restaurant would close, effective immediately, and “not reopen as a Dairy Queen unless ownership changes at that location.”
By Matthew Hamilton for Times Union - The state Industrial Board of Appeals has upheld the planned increase to a $15 minimum wage for the state’s fast food workers. “No one who works hard should ever be condemned to a life of poverty and that’s why we are continuing the fight today,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who called for a wage board to consider increasing the pay for fast food workers earlier this year. “We will not stop until we ensure a new standard of economic justice for all workers – and when New York acts, the rest of the nation follows.” The IBA shot down the National Restaurant Association’s arguments that internet entrepreneur Kevin Ryan was not an appropriate employer representative on the wage board...
By C. Robert Gibson in Occupy - So, to be clear, $15 an hour now is neither an unreasonable nor irrational demand. By contrast, the default argument against increasing the minimum wage is the alleged harm it will do to businesses. This can be negated by simply restructuring existing corporate entitlement programs already in place. According to a 2014 report by Good Jobs First, just 965 corporations have received over 75 percent of all state business subsidies. Fortune 500 companies – by definition the most successful and profitable in the world – received $63 billion in taxpayer handouts. Good Jobs First found that out of 441,000 entitlement programs (277,000 state and local; 164,000 federal), those 965 corporations received a total of 25,000 entitlements worth $110 billion through various subsidiary corporations.
By Working Washington - In the year between the first Seattle fast food strikes and the passage Seattle’s landmark $15 minimum wage law, we heard all kinds of of sky-is-falling predictions from business owners, academics, and others. Week after week, self-appointed experts showed up in the news, insisting that they knew best. It was Economics 101, they’d say: higher wages would surely sink the economy. Businesses would be destroyed.Franchises would cease to exist. Prices would rise 25% or more. Open for business signs would go dark, owners would move to Texas, and Seattle would become a city of Cheesecake Factories. Their arguments are pretty much the same stuff as business lobbyists have been saying since child labor laws were passed. And yet they were treated as credible sources in Seattle’s public debate.
The biotech industry has a long history of discrediting scientists who challenge the safety of GMOs. That intimidation campaign worked well until consumers connected the dots between GMO foods (and the toxic chemicals used to grow them) and health concerns. Once consumers demanded labels on GMO foods, the biotech industry responded with a multimillion dollar public relations campaign. Yet despite spending millions to influence the media, and millions more to prevent laws requiring labels on products the industry claims are safe, Monsanto has lost the hearts and minds of consumers. The latest polls show that 93 percent of Americans support mandatory labeling of GMO foods. Chipotle has made a sound business decision, which has forced the biotech industry to stoop to a new low: vilifying businesses.
On the same day that McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook announced sweeping changes aimed at "returning excitement" to the behemoth—and struggling—fast-food chain, thousands of McDonald's cooks and cashiers vowed to descend on the the company's annual shareholder meeting in Illinois later this month to demand higher wages, fairer treatment, and the right to organize. "We may not have a seat in the room, but we're sure that McDonald's will hear us when we say that its turnaround needs to include investment in and respect for its employees," saidAdriana Alvarez, who has worked at McDonald's for five years, and was one of 101 workers arrested at a peaceful sit-in at last year's shareholder meeting. Her story is common among McDonald's employees, tens of thousands of whom have taken to the streets to protest poverty wages in recent fast-food strikes and walk-outs.