Fast Food Workers Walk Out To Protest Wages
In cities across the US, fast food workers walked out on the job yesterday to protest for a living wage. The event comes just after an embarrassing McDonald’s website brought more attention to the struggles of restaurant workers earning the minimum wage.
Employees of fast-food eateries are striking in New York City, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Missouri, and Flint, Michigan, this week, organizers said in an e-mailed statement. The workers, who also are demanding the right to form a union without retaliation, are organized by groups such as New York Communities for Change, Jobs with Justice and Action Now. The Service Employees International Union is providing money to the campaigns and helping to organize the strikes.
The SEIU is the largest union in the country, and could stand to gain thousands of new members if fast food workers organize.
The strikers were reportedly demanding a wage increase to $15 an hour. The national minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour, though it is higher in some states. (The New York minimum wage is set to go up to $9 an hour by 2015). McDonald’s wages depend on position, but according to job website Glassdoor, they average about $7.72 an hour.
A worker with a full-time minimum wage job falls several hundred dollars below the US poverty line.
In the Bloomberg article, a McDonald’s spokesperson defends the company’s practices:
“The majority of McDonald’s restaurants across the country are owned and operated by independent business men and women where employees are paid competitive wages, and have access to flexible schedules and quality, affordable benefits…”
Just two weeks ago, McDonald’s found itself fending off similar criticism after a sample household budget it had produced for employees went viral. The budget included an unexplained second income, and included several unrealistic estimates for expenses. For example, the budget includes car payments, but not gas money; and the $20 for health insurance is far below even McDonald’s most basic coverage.
The Huffington Post points out that this is at least the third time New York City fast-food workers have walked out since November.
What do you think of the protests?