Fast-Food Workers Go on Strike

Fast-food workers in 100 cities say they will strike on Thursday for higher wages.

Credit: Gilroy Patch
Credit: Gilroy Patch

Fast-food workers across the country say they are planning to strike on Thursday in an effort to press chains like Wendy’s and McDonald’s to raise their hourly wage to $15. Currently, the federal minimum wage is set at $7.25.

The protest, galvanized by the organizations Fast Food Forward and Fight for 15, is also backed by the Service Employees International Union. Fast-food workers in more than 50 cities participated in a similar strike this past August. This week, protests are scheduled in 100 U.S. cities, and more religious and community groups, such as US Action and United Students Against Sweatshops, are expected to join in.

According to Fast Food Forward’s Facebook page, “We are uniting for $15 and our right to form a union without interference because we believe jobs should pay workers enough to afford food, clothing, and rent. Lifting wages will help lift the broader economy."

The National Restaurant Association does not share this view. It cautions that if fast food restaurants are pressured into such a substantial wage increase, they’ll be forced to hire less workers in favor of more cost-efficient automation.

The push for higher wages is happening beyond the fast food industry. Protesters demanding a minimum annual salary of $25,000 for full-time Walmart employees have also been agitating of late.

The reason for the protests is clear enough: wages remain flat even through the recovery. In an op-ed over the weekend, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman pointed out that “despite the lingering effects of the financial crisis, America is a much richer country than it was 40 years ago. But the inflation-adjusted wages of nonsupervisory workers in retail trade — who weren’t particularly well paid to begin with — have fallen almost 30 percent since 1973.”

It’s a dramatically different world now. The workers faces an uphill battle, summed up in the words of a man packing up his car next to a Wal-Mart protest. "I have no qualms with Walmart,” he said. “They create jobs."

Do you think fast-food and other retail workers should receive a $15 hourly wage? Tell us in the comments or in a blog post.

Oren Spiegler December 02, 2013 at 08:10 PM
If a strike can shut down fast food restaurants, it could be a great boon to public health.
Roger December 02, 2013 at 08:21 PM
I agree, Oren. Perhaps if these workers do shut down some fast-food shops, they will realize these shops aren't needed. Their protest took a wrong turn in strategy when they try to assert that a fast-food worker earn enough to make a living. That is not the nature of these jobs. They are entry level jobs, to be a stepping stone to the next employment level. Asking $15/hr is offensive to those who earn $15, and are rightfully assessed that value in the marketplace. Rather than protest not making $15/hr, perhaps the time would be better spent getting trained for a work position that earns $15, because the marketplace has decided the value.
Oren Spiegler December 02, 2013 at 09:21 PM
I cannot argue with anything you state here, Roger. If the workers believe that they are going to prevail and a $15 minimum wage provided, they are sadly mistaken. President Obama is proposing a minimum wage of "only" $10.10 per hour and even that is not going to succeed with a Republican-controlled House. Many have the misconception that a significant number of $7.25 per hour workers are heads of household, adult breadwinners. That is not the case.


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