Fast-food strikes set for cities nationwide

Fast-food customers in search of burgers and fries today (Thursday) might run into striking workers instead.
AP Wire
Aug 29, 2013

Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages.

It's expected be the largest nationwide strike by fast-food workers, according to organizers. The biggest effort so far was over the summer when about 2,200 of the nation's millions of fast-food workers staged a one-day strike in seven cities.

Thursday's planned walkouts follow a series of strikes that began last November in New York City, then spread to cities including Chicago, Detroit and Seattle. Workers say they want $15 an hour, which would be about $31,000 a year for full-time employees. That's more than double the federal minimum wage, which many fast food workers make, of $7.25 an hour, or $15,000 a year.

The move comes amid calls from the White House, some members of Congress and economists to hike the federal minimum wage, which was last raised in 2009. But most proposals seek a far more modest increase than the ones workers are asking for, with President Barack Obama wanting to boost it to $9 an hour.

The push has brought considerable media attention to a staple of the fast-food industry — the so-called "McJobs" that are known for their low pay and limited prospects. But the workers taking part in the strikes still represent a tiny fraction of the broader industry. And it's not clear if the strikes on Thursday will shut down any restaurants because organizers made their plans public earlier in a call for workers around the country to participate, which gave managers time to adjust their staffing levels. More broadly, it's not clear how many customers are aware of the movement, with turnout for past strikes relatively low in some cities.

Laila Jennings, a 29-year-old sales associate at T.J. Maxx, was eating at a McDonald's in New York City this week and said she hadn't heard of the movement. Still, she said she thinks workers should be paid more. "They work on their feet all day," Jennings said, adding that $12 to $15 an hour seemed fair.

As it stands, fast-food workers say they can't live on what they're paid.

Shaniqua Davis, 20, lives in the Bronx with her boyfriend, who is unemployed, and their 1-year-old daughter. Davis has worked at a McDonald's a few blocks from her apartment for the past three months, earning $7.25 an hour. Her schedule varies, but she never gets close to 40 hours a week. "Forty? Never. They refuse to let you get to that (many) hours."

Her weekly paycheck is $150 or much lower. "One of my paychecks, I only got $71 on there. So I wasn't able to do much with that. My daughter needs stuff, I need to get stuff for my apartment," said Davis, who plans to take part in the strike Thursday.

She pays the rent with public assistance but struggles to afford food, diapers, subway and taxi fares, cable TV and other expenses with her paycheck.

"It's really hard," she said. "If I didn't have public assistance to help me out, I think I would have been out on the street already with the money I make at McDonald's."

McDonald's Corp. and Burger King Worldwide Inc. say that they don't make decisions about pay for the independent franchisees that operate the majority of their U.S. restaurants.

For the restaurants it does own, McDonald's said in a statement that pay starts at minimum wage but the range goes higher, depending on the employee's position and experience level. It said that raising entry-level wages would mean higher overall costs, which could result in higher prices on menus.

"That would potentially have a negative impact on employment and business growth in our restaurants, as well as value for our customers," the company said in a statement.

The Wendy's Co. and Yum Brands Inc., which owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, did not respond to a request for comment.

The National Restaurant Association says the low wages reflect the fact that most fast-food workers tend to be younger and have little work experience. Scott DeFife, a spokesman for the group, says that doubling wages would hurt job creation, noting that fast-food chains are already facing higher costs for ingredients, as well as new regulations that will require them to pay more in health care costs.

Still, the actions are striking a chord in some corners.

Robert Reich, a worker advocate and former Labor Secretary in the Clinton administration, said that the struggles of living on low wages is hitting close to home for many because of the weak economic climate.

"More and more, people are aware of someone either in their wider circle of friends or extended family who has fallen on hard times," Reich said.

Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, which is providing the fast-food strikes with financial support and training, said the actions in recent months show that fast-food workers can be mobilized, despite the industry's relatively higher turnover rates and younger age.

"The reality has totally blown through the obstacles," she said.

Comments

jjabrahms

this will end the "DOLLAR MENU"
probably close all the slower stores..
and then fast food may become a thing of the past... LOL

Mystic Michael

No. It won't. It'll cut very modestly into the huge profits of the fast food industry, thereby giving their hourly employees a chance to finally earn a living wage.

Last year, the eight largest fast food corporations - McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's and Papa John's - made $7.35 billion in profit...while paying most of their employees less than $11,200 per year. That's poverty wages. It's exploitation. And it's a disgrace.

Contrary to popular misconception, these are not just high school kids earning beer money. The median age of American fast food workers is over 25 years old, and more than 25% of fast food wage workers are parents trying to support a family.

McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, et al can easily afford to pay a reasonable living wage. Easily.

jjabrahms

really? ok, lets say your correct on the numbers... and that their under priced food did not get you in there. last i checked this is America.. we have a choice if they are not going to pay you what you want..... why did you take the job in the first place?????

Mystic Michael

First of all, the low price of items on the Dollar Menu is irrelevant to this discussion. McDonald's, Burger King & Wendy's make a TON of money on those items. They're not about to forsake that revenue stream just because they'll have to start paying their employees a living wage.

Secondly, yes this is America. And implicit in the values of America is the notion of fair play, and a level playing field. We don't exploit each other. That's not American, anymore than greed & selfishness.

Third, your implication that low-wage workers have a multitude of alternate employment options has virtually nothing at all to do with the real world. In many places, fast food jobs are the only jobs available. If people didn't take those job, then you'd accuse them of being lazy bums.

Three of every five new jobs currently being created in this country is a minimum-wage job. Of those minimum-wage workers, 80% are over the age of 20, and 30% are over the age of 40.

Even in those areas of the country where wage jobs are relatively plentiful, major employers often secretly collude on wages & benefits with other employers in order to keep wages artificially low - and thereby eliminate any competitive benefit that those workers might otherwise be able to enjoy by taking a higher-wage job with a new employer. It's a form of 21st Century virtual serfdom. Collusion isn't an American value either.

The American fast food industry is a $200 billion per year industry. According on one recent economic study, across-the-board raises for all wage employees to $15/hour would raise the average price of a McDonald's Big Mac by...(wait for it)...five cents ($.05). Personally, I would be more than happy to throw in an extra nickel - and considerably more - IF I knew it was helping many of those people to make ends meet. It's the right thing to do. It's the moral thing to do.

owell

As I suggest to all liberals that want more taxes and forced monetary distribution to the people, why do you not give a nickel to the worker who took your order? If every liberal started to supplement low wage workers income, with a nickel here or a dime there, life would be good for everyone. While you are at it, why not send double your taxes to the government seeing as you like big government so much? I am sure they will handle your money well.

Tri-cities realist

They don't want to redistribute their own money, just those evil rich people.

jjabrahms
Vladtheimp

We are approaching the end game when people praise the concept of Karl Marx:

"In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly—only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: FROM EACH ACCORDING TO HIS ABILITY, TO EACH ACCORDING TO HIS NEEDS." ^ a b Marx, Karl (1875). "Part I". Critique of the Gotha Program.

Regrettably,MM,the socialists, the communists, and Obama have all tired of waiting for the Communist utopia to evolve based on the revolt of the proletariat, and have gone straight to the final solution.

MM has parroted Obama, who infamously declared "I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money." (Easy for him to say while living the lifestyle of the rich and famous on our tax dollars).

And speaking of needs, there are many - free college, Obamaphones, free health insurance, freedom from paying taxes, Earned Income Tax Credit, SNAP, Bridge Cards, subsidized housing, subsidized food, free birth control, free abortions, and other various stuff. Abilities, often not so much.

Also interesting how the subject of one of the sob stories highlighted wasn't married, was living with her baby daddy with their cable TV but can't equate why her employer won't give her 40 hours with Obamacare, taxes, and demands for a doubling of her hourly rate.

We are so screwed, and people like MM and his liberal friends and politicians are doubling down on the screwdriver. Forward! Comrades http://www.popmodal.com/video/9665/

Mystic Michael

Yeah, yeah...

With you, every attempt to empower ordinary people is always some kind of sinister Communist plot; every movement or law to protect their rights and allow them a share of the American Dream is automatically some kind of diabolical conspiracy. Yada, yada, yada...

The tinfoil hat schtick is getting old. Give it a rest already.

Vladtheimp

What "right" or ordinary people am I not protecting? The right to have Other People's Money forcibly given to them to meet their "needs" however they may define their needs?

Why not do us all a favor and simply state that you believe socialism/communism is a better political system for the United States of America than what we inherited under the Constitution? At least you would be honest - of course, examples of how ordinary people have fared under communism would be appreciated.

Lanivan

I have now come to the conclusion you are very simply having the time of your life with your comments, dancing, prancing, and leaping with the grace and coordination of Mikhail Baryshnikov. Surely you aren't serious with this comment, and surely you are not expecting to be taken seriously.

When you know very well President Obama is not a Marxist, communist, socialist, or dictator; that he did not invent, create, or mandate "free college, Obamaphones, free health insurance, freedom from paying taxes, Earned Income Tax Credit, SNAP, Bridge Cards, subsidized housing, subsidized food, free birth control, free abortions, and other various stuff", most of which was created, invented, voted in the affirmative, legislated, supported, and proposed by Republicans (or with bipartisan compromise), then I must come to the conclusion your efforts are simply to pull our legs or tickle our funny bones.

Pity not a single word or thought that has to do with the US economy; the fact that many major corporations notoriously pay workers so little that those workers become permanent members of the massive-growth working poor division and actually qualify for all those nasty things you mention, thus creating Corporate Welfare, a huge drain to the US social net and economy. Or that a living wage, easily accomplished in the era of unprecedented corporate profits, would allow many of the working poor to attain a status that would release them from the 'bondage' of the social net.

One often-overlooked perk of a severe recession where people are let go, laid off, and outsourced in droves, is that these unemployed people, who often have lost virtually everything, are so grateful for any job, even those that do not pay a living wage and offer no benefits, that certain businesses do not have to adhere to typical hiring practices, such as offering competitive wages/benefit packages to entice the best workers. But, of course, this is really about Obama turning the US into a Marxist State, complete with free stuff for the proletariat.

To paraphrase rukidding: "Bring out the vodka". Za Vas!

Vladtheimp

1. I resemble Baryshnikov like Hillary resembles Bar Refaeli.

2. I never said all the stuff was only provided under Obama - this drift toward socialism has been supported, unfortunately, by both parties pandering for votes.

3. When you and the democrats acknowledge what a disaster Obama has been for the economy, we can discuss corporate welfare and the Crony Capitalism perfected by Obama.

4. I'm all for helping the working poor - my problem is with the leeches who have families that have not worked for generations and demand more and more entitlements from the taxpayers, including the working poor.

5. It takes great Chutzpah to talk about having sympathy for " unemployed people, who often have lost virtually everything, are so grateful for any job, even those that do not pay a living wage and offer no benefits, that certain businesses do not have to adhere to typical hiring practices, such as offering competitive wages/benefit packages to entice the best workers" when it is Obama's economic policies that are creating chaos, and Obamacare that is forcing people into part - time jobs, and before you squawk about big corporations, that viewpoint is being expressed by big Labor, including most recently the AFL-CIO.

I prefer good old American Kentucky bourbon - I can recommend Buffalo Trace, for example. Za vashe zdorovie!

Lanivan

1. I love a comment that mentions five throughbreds - Obama, Hillary, Baryshnikov, Bar, and Buffalo Trace.

2. Really? First time I recall your admitting this, although my recollection may not be as sharp as it once was, what with all the relentless commenting.

3. Until you and your conservative allies acknowledge that Obama saved America from a severe recession, that conservative leadership has been regressive for the economy, in particular the middle class, and that corporate welfare grows under both Democratic and Republican presidents, there can be no rational and effective dialog or problem-solving.

4. Statistics show that the number of leeches as you describe had been dropping. Meanwhile, the number of working poor is growing in leaps and bounds. How would you handle the problem? Why do you think the percentage of working poor is growing, and the middle class shrinking? (And please don't pull out your Evil Obama crib sheets)

5. What Obamacare is forcing is the highlighting of the deeply-ingrained degree of greed in many major corporations, and the corporate willingness to take legislation that directly helps the middle class and working poor attain a better and more productive quality of life, and use it to, a.) provide a whipping boy for that greed, and b.) provide a cover for their ever-exploding use of corporate welfare.

When Walmart, which supported Obamacare, now cuts hours so they don't have to offer benefits, now making workers qualify for Medicaid Expansion; when the AFL-CIO complains about Obamacare because they know first-hand how corporations can/will distort it to shaft workers; when you get off the terrible recording that Obama's economic policies are creating chaos, when it is in fact conservative obstruction, bordering on treason, that creates and intensifies the chaos; when you acknowledge that the recession, and the events prior to it, played handsomely into corporate welfare, wealth inequality, less need for corporate competitive enticements, then you have the right to accuse me of chutzpah.

Vladtheimp

Behind the Big Increase in Food Stamps http://economix.blogs.nytimes.co...

Lanivan

And this is the other side of the coin.....these charts pretty much say it all. 11 charts that sum up what's wrong with America: http://www.motherjones.com/polit...

Lanivan

What's behind the rise in SNAP participation-
http://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-wa...

Creedance

The companies will have to give in to this request. These employees are irreplaceable.

Vladtheimp

No, they won't have to give into this extortion, and no, the employees are not irreplaceable.

In the first case, these employees are being used as pawns by union bosses and don't realize it. The infamous SEIU (Obama's best friends) are astroturfing this by providing financial support and training for the organizers. http://abcnews.go.com/Business/w...

As the private sector union membership continues to shrink, the union bosses are agitating to get new dupes into paying their salaries, and actually pirating the members of competing union bosses.

Secondly, there are many people looking for work in areas of the country that don't pay more for welfare than work. If there aren't, this will be the perfect opportunity for the fast food industry to use existing technology to replace the workers, and the public would understand they were forced to do it by the union bosses and striking employees. They already have the technology to do away with the cashiers http://investorplace.com/2011/05... and the workers who are making the food http://www.gizmag.com/hamburger-...

So then the union bosses will have damaged ALL of the people who want the entry level positions, the companies will make more money (machines don't file frivolous lawsuits, call in sick or just don't show up, get unemployment, insult customers, or suck money for Obamacare). Obama can claim, like he did for ATM's, that his lousy economy is now due to robots in the fast food industry.

The innovations of capitalism, that's why we win.

LessThanAmused

"No, they won't have to give into this extortion, and no, the employees are not irreplaceable".

He wasn't serious you nitwit, it was a joke. Use some of that money you're hoarding and buy yourself a sense of humor.

Like Michael said, your constant paranoia and distrust of everything you don't like has gotten extremely old and tiresome. You diss people who "mooch" off your dime and you diss them when they try to stand up and attempt to make their lives better. Face it, what you really want is mass euthanasia for all human beings who don't make a minimum $90,000 a year. That way you won't have to share anything you have with anyone else....And for the record I stopped reading 90% of your rants and political drivel months ago, but sometimes your tired narcissistic opinions are unavoidable....tired of you and your mini fan club trying to co-op article after article with your whacked out P.O.V. I know it's hard to believe, but not everybody who reads your crap thinks you're the second coming...

Give it a rest, take a trip, preferably back out East and one way.

Lanivan

I have suggested in the past that Vlad and his pack take a sabbatical to Africa - Yemen or Liberia, perhaps - to witness firsthand the freedom of limited government, but they declined the suggestion.

I would, however, suggest treating you to a Texas Roadhouse dinner for your comment. Your gloriously calling Valdtheimp a "nitwit" cancels out your calling me a "twit", and perhaps you aren't the whiny, middle-aged person you seem to be, after all......

LessThanAmused

Well, what can I say, both are true!

I'd take you up on the dinner, but the wife says she'd have to come along and supervise as she's well aware how I deal with politically correct "people". It would be for your own safety.

I do thank you for the middle-aged comment though as those days are long past. I turned 60 last year and have my class A-1 Curmudgeon's license and I'm not afraid to to use it! I've been called many things over the years, but whiny is a new one I think...abrasive seems to be the #1 choice.

Make sure you read the rest of that post too about co-opting articles with constant off-topic politico crap and dumb-a** youtube links.

I'm free for dinner any night next week according to the wife.

Lanivan

Yes - abrasive is good, too. Since it seems we are both of the same age, and are realistically in our prime, I will take back the "middle-aged" part of my insult. Although I appreciate your concern for my well-being, you should know that I have been richly blessed with the friendship of many people of the male persuasion over the years of all stripes and colors politically, and we are still talking and toasting without necessary supervision!

To stay on-topic, I suppose we should make that dinner at Wendy's.

LessThanAmused

Ack. Not to be a snob, but I haven't ate there in years. I try to stay away from eateries with drive-thrus. How about I take the wife to the Roadhouse and have her drink a Margarita in your honor? I'd be happy to split the bill with ya. :-)

Lanivan

Finally - you have amused me! Sounds like a great plan, and while she's drinking in my honor, I will tip a few in her's as well - for being such a saint to put up with your abrasiveness.....j/k, don't go getting all whiny!

You do have a point - drive-thru's typically don't serve Margarita's...:(

LessThanAmused

Not very good ones anyhow.

Yesterday was our 31st anniversary and I believe her petition for sainthood is well on the way to being approved! Besides, she started it herself way back when....I was just sitting there minding my own business. Next thing I know I've gotten old and raised 3 kids, the oldest being 28 and currently in the Army with her 5 kids and husband in South Korea.

Most days lately I feel like Rip Van Winkle.

Time to start up the grill now....my companion saint has deemed tonight's meal one of Chili dogs and corn on the cob. No magaritas, but we do have Mackinac Island fudge for desert.

Lanivan

Happy Anniversary #31 and Congratulations on your wonderful family! No wonder you feel like Rip Van Winkle....But I guarantee the Mackinac Island fudge will make it all better, having found this treat to have great medicinal value a long time ago.

Chili dogs and corn on the cob? I will be tipping even more in her honor! See what great things happen when you just sit there, minding your own business?

LessThanAmused

Yup and I've been trying to do that very same thing ever since. :-)

Actually, anniversary was Wednesday, yesterday was drive back home day. Obviously I didn't entirely sleep off the road buzz last night.

Lanivan

I am so glad you corrected your actual anniversary date - I wondered about that...:D But my 'Congratulations' still stands, regardless of your getting the date wrong because of "road buzz" (ie, typical man thing...)

LessThanAmused

Well, it was the politically correct thing to do! :-0

Lanivan

You just won't let me get the last word in....result of sugar buzz? lol..

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