Fast Food Strike: Low Pay, No Way

Fast Food Strike: Low Pay, No Way

Alexus Brown, Staff Writer

On November 29, 2012 fast food chains in New York City went on a one day strike.  Workers from Domino’s, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC, and Papa John’s participated in the walk out, influenced by the Wal-Mart protests during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend about low wages.  The group is called Fast Food Forward and already has 40 fulltime organizers rallied up.  The fast food workers have an alliance with New York Communities for Change to spread awareness of the injustice within their workplaces.  The big fast food chains are being accused of not paying enough for a person to survive.  Workers are fighting for increased wages.  They are demanding an average of a $7 raise in hourly pay.  The workers hope to get paid $15 rather than below $9 since they work for 8 hours a day throughout the entire year.

The campaign is supported by community and civil rights groups, religious leaders, and a labor union. The movement is being called the largest initiative of its kind to unionize fast food employees. It is challenging a nearly union-free industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that fast food is one of the lowest paid jobs in New York City.  Workers complain that the fast food companies have enough money to pay reasonably, but they still force them to work overtime without decent pay.

Domino’s Pizza spokesman, Tim McIntyre states “there’s never been a successful union effort”.  The jobs provide no benefits, barely any protection because it’s unenforced, and no control over the schedules. University of Pennsylvania sociologist Robin Leidner says ‘virtually everyone’s part-time’, explaining how workers don’t have enough hours to get legal protections that make them qualified for any health benefits, even if they are working fulltime.  Jose Cerillo, a 79 year old janitor, was suspended for just signing on the Fast Food Forward petition.  The harshest punishment for signing the petition is being fired.  The minimum wage currently for fast food workers in New York is $7.25, and Cerillo only makes 15 cents above that.  According to Cerillo, many managers and bosses “bully” their workers, even going so far to reduce hours until the worker quits.

In Chicago, a similar group has formed. The Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago or WWOC is a new self-regulating union made of workers of low wages of more than one employer.  Associations like the ones popping up in New York and Chicago could become the latest trend around the nation’s cities, ones that speak of fairness in the workplace.