Fast-food strikes set for cities nationwide

Walkout planned Thursday to push chains to pay workers higher wages
Associated Press
Aug 28, 2013

Fast-food customers in search of burgers and fries on Thursday might run into striking workers instead.

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 much 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

Nemesis

Well, gee, dog, that's easy. So the CEO got an increase of 18.9 million. How much would these people's demands cost? LET'S DO THE MATH, DOG.

McDonald's in all its iterations employs 1.7 million people. We'll toss out a million as management, leaving 1.6 million.

They're mostly part time, averaging 25 hours per week. Multiply by 52 weeks a year, that's 1300 hours a year per employee, for a total of 2.08 billion man-hours per year.

They're demanding a raise of $7.75 per hour based on federal minimum wage. That comes to $16.12 BILLION per year in increased costs for people whose skill level can easily be bested by a second grader.

And you're worried about an $18.9 million in the cost of running an organization of 1.7 million employees? That's like the superintendent of a good sized public school district with 1000 employees getting a raise of $10,000 a year, or the manager of a 30 employee company getting a raise of $300 a year.

More importantly, the McDonald's CEO didn't go on strike and shut down the business to get that raise. He was given that raise based on his performance and on the board's awareness that there were other companies out there willing to pay him that much if they weren't, and they wanted to keep him. That's comparable to a McDonald's employee saying "Hey, Taco Bell is offering me 25% more per hour, can you match it?" to which none of us would have the slightest objection.

Some dining establishments in town that invest heavily in training their dining staff to provide the service their customers demand. As a result, they pay more and provide benefits not typical in that industry to keep them from being lured away by other restaurants. That's the free market way for restaurant employees to increase their pay.

The Big Dog's back

OK, so let the CEO make $300,000 a year and the employees divide up the rest. Sounds fair to me.

grumpy

What sounds good to you is meaningless... unless you own 51% of the McDonalds stock. I am willing to bet big money that you don't. Some fool who owns little or no stock in McDonalds stock doesn't have a say in what anyone at McDonalds makes, let alone what the CEO does. But then that is how publicly owned companies work, they don't care what a piddle puppy claims to think.

arnmcrmn

grumpy...you simply do not get how large cooperations work......again. If large cooperations like Apple or McDonald's listened to the voice of every stock holder, they would get NOWHERE. Unless you are either the CEO, President or on the board of directors, you simply are a stockholder and hope that the leadership (those mentioned above) do a good enough job so that whatever money you have invested in them increases. CEO's and boards change all the time by either firing or retirement. If a CEO isn't producing, they get replaced just like an NFL football player.

Who is the ultimate boss of a large cooperation......the stockholder and that isn't through voice. Its through investments. Do well, people invest and reinvest. Do poorly, and you get the opposite.

You just do not understand the dynamics of business models large and small. I own a business...my employees do not tell me what they make or have a say in it. That is true for every business.

Nemesis

That's ridiculous. $300K is about the average salary for the CEO of a 200 employee company with less than $50 million in revenue. Only in your marxist fantasy world is there no relationship between responsibility and compensation.

Let's put it another way that might resonate with your class warfare sensibilities. If a kid working the counter at McDonald's makes a professional error, a $10 gift card to the wronged customer is usually enough to make it right. If the CEO of McDonald's makes a professional error, potentially the company folds and 1.7 million people lose their livelihood. Under those circumstances, it's worth more to get the best person in the CEO chair. But that logic escapes you, because all you can see is your jealousy and resent for the fact that someone out there is more successful than you.

The Big Dog's back

The President of the United States makes $400,000. He has responsibility of over 350 million people. Who has more responsibility than that in the US?

Nemesis

Supply and demand, baby. Every four years numerous people line up to spend a billion dollars trying to get the job, and any one of them would do it for free, given the opportunity, which, given the last few of them, would actually be overpaying.

In any event, the fringe benefit of the power more than compensates for the salary.

Campaign: $1 billion
Salary: $400K
Being able to call in drone strikes on people you don't like: Priceless.
For everything else, there's MasterCard.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Thank you Nemesis. You expressed your point well and I always appreciate a good, old-fashioned thought experiment! Unless we create some kind of "maximum wage" I appreciate the sky's the limit ability to succeed. It is what helps motivate me as a business owner! I know that if I were to be a leader of a multi-billion dollar, international (and truly, deeply international not a one-in-Canada-one-in-U.S) company I would appreciate a larger compensation.

It must also be considered about just what is done with that money. I would imagine he doesn't have a Scrooge McDuck vault filled with gold coins he swims in every morning. I'd wager that money is invested so that other companies and their employees can flourish. Or perhaps he donates swathes of it to charity? Maybe he buys municipal bonds to support his hometown? None of that would happen if he didn't have the money to do so. I certainly don't hold any munis as much as I want to help this city out and it is for a lack of money and not passion. We also can't forget how much of that $19M is taxed away from him before he receives it to put into any of the things above?

Nemesis

In fact, Ray Kroc's (founder of McDonald's) widow used most of his fortune to endow a huge charitable foundation, and she was NOT the capitalist that he was. The foundation primarily funds the sort of left wing causes that are so near and dear to Dog's Marxist heart. Isn't irony fun?

starryeyes83

I know how to make my own cheeseburgers deluxe and DAMN IT -- I use BREAD!

And I make my own pot of coffee, too.

@ Lady_ Dye !! Good Point on your husband's service.. Thank him for me.

Now then, these kids wouldn't know a real waitress (sorry, "server") job if it flew up and bit them. My mom could have taught them a thing or two. Every step counted. I seen her when I was small balance multiple platters up their arm. ( yeah, the old school diner way) We didn't have trays in our place.

Wanna see how fast burger chains will close if they ever start paying them $15.

ladydye_5

Better yet starry head to the local bakery (we have one here in my hometown) get fresh homemade bread/buns and then toast it! Makes a burger to die for!
Your mom probably didn't write her orders down, or at best wrote it down with waitress short hand, "diner style". I'll wager a bet she could count her mistakes on ONE hand for a week too. These kids have a computer take the order and they still cannot get it right. If you take it back and complain they pretty much call YOU the liar and roll their eyes at you. Yet these kid want to demand a raise! Not just a quarter or even a dollar, but DOUBLE their pay. For what? Bad service, attitude, and usually an order of things you didn't want. I don't eat fast food much, but when they start paying them $15 an hour and the price of a Big Mac is 10$...I won't eat it at all.

starryeyes83

You would be right about that, lady-dye. She could do math faster in her head than anybody I've ever seen. When she had a minute she would catch up on her tickets. And catch up on her "side work". This was back when she maybe got 80 cents an hour plus tips which were a dime maybe two if she was lucky.

Good idea about the homemade buns.

Nemesis

And yet today dolts who can't make change want to be paid like educated professionals.

ladydye_5

Have you ever handed them the loose change after they have entered the dollar amount and totaled the register out? They look at you like you are from Mars! Then tell you they can't take it because they have already entered it. LMAO. Or when you tell them they gave you too much change and they fight with you that they did NOT. "The register tells me how much to give." After the 3rd time I keep it and walk away. These are the people that THINK they deserve to make $15 an hour! They cannot make change without a register telling them how to do it. If you try to help them they accuse you of trying to short change them.

Nemesis

"Have you ever handed them the loose change after they have entered the dollar amount and totaled the register out?"

I believe the technical term for the typical reaction is "deer caught in the headlights. Better yet, try telling them the correct amount - then you get shock and awe because they don't believe it's possible for humans to do that sort of math in their heads.

When they give me too much change, I show them what they gave me, and ask "are you SURE this is what you want to give me?" I also give them three opportunities, on the third one emphasizing that if they still think it's right, I'm leaving with it and their drawer balance is their problem.

In 1984, I had a conversation with a striking 21 year old UFCW member in front of a Pick'n'Pay supermarket in Cleveland. He told me that the $11/hour the company had offered in contract negotiations wasn't good enough (remember the context, 1984 - gas was $1.30/gallon) and when I asked, I discovered that he bagged groceries. I asked why he thought $11/hour wasn't enough and he said it wasn't sufficient to support his wife and two kids. So I asked him why he thought it prudent to start a family without first acquiring skills sufficient for a job that couldn't be performed by a trained chimp, and why his lack of judgement should be the problem of everyone who would have to pay more for groceries. He didn't have an answer for that.

AJ Oliver

You folks sure have a lot of distain for others - it must be nice to be so much better than they are. But while you are thus distracted (by FAUX "news", etc.), the middle and working classes of the U.S. are being deliberately destroyed. The median wealth per adult in Canada is now $ 90,000 vs. $ 53,000 in the U.S.. This is all about differences in wages, costs of education, union rights, and more. The financial engineere at the employ of the One % refer to people like you as "low hanging fruit". If you read the posts here, you'll understand why. People, even a majority of Republicans favor raising the minimum wage !!

grumpy

" The median wealth per adult in Canada is now $ 90,000 vs. $ 53,000 in the U.S."

Some of that is Canada is still in a housing bubble, and much of the rest is Canada saves more than the US.

http://metanoodle.blogspot.com/2...

It is wealth accumulation, not wages. I always saved, and invested, from the time I was 10 years old. If you spend every dime you ever make and borrow on credit cards and borrow for a car, house, get 'easy' monthly payments on insurance, appliances, furniture, and whatnot, you are simply living beyond your means and never save any "wealth". You are just accumulating debt, no matter how much you make in wages. Quit borrowing 'easy' credit and 'easy' payments. Save and invest to build wealth.

AJ Oliver

Hey Grumps, you don't get it. Canada regulates its banks so they cannot steal trillions like the ones in the U.S.. Canada also has substantially higher entry level wages, and much cheaper higher education costs. But mostly, the differences are due to the much greater inequality in the U.S. than Canada. The differences in wealth (the U.S. ranks 14th or lower now) ought to shock you - why don't they? It is CLEAR EVIDENCE of the precipitous decline of the U.S. middle & working class.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Please define this "middle" and "working" class. Please also inform me which agency is officially responsible for classifying citizens.

grumpy

I hope you don't expect an answer to that. They can't define their terms, so they can't be pinned down. They also can't know what they are talking about when they can't define the terms they use.

looking around

You and Hero seem to have a lot of questions but zero answers.

grumpy

Answers about what? Minimum wage? It is 7.25 in our area. What other question do you want answered?

It is not possible to have a conversation, let alone a debate when the meanings of key words are not defined. I know what middle class to an economist means, but he mentioned a sociology class and that has a different definition, as would a social worker for middle class. Hero used the dictionary to show an altogether different definition than any I would use. He didn't want to say what he meant by it so how can we have a conversation when he uses terms he won't define?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Hence the questions and that's the point, looking around. A solution for a problem can't be found if there is no understanding. Understanding is gained by questioning others who may know more than you and by them explaining an answer. I would hope you aren't suggesting that people just be quiet and sit on their hands when they want to learn more. Or, did you mean that zero answers have been provided to the questions? In which case Pyrkins has provided at least one with a definition of production and spurred an info quest I am undertaking.

When you touch your elbow and say "it hurts" then your head and nose with the same response is it because each of those locations are damaged or do you just have a broken finger? That's what I am trying to get at here. I hear a lot of "middle class, middle class" from leaders from both sides but I am not convinced they know or can specify what this group is. It's just a lot of nodding heads and I don't understand it.

If I am middle class and you are middle class (I presume we both can say with certainty), and probably the vast majority of people also think they're middle class, then where is the correlation? You and I may have vastly different interests, lifestyles, incomes, assets, etc. But how can we both be middle class? How many richer and poorer people have been burned (or rolled their eyes) because they heard some program was being instituted and sold under "middle class" that didn't apply to them?

While it can't be relied on as a primary source, at least doing a cursory glance at Wikipedia for "American middle class" shows no one set of definitions. I can agree that there is some middle 60 (80?)% bell curve of the population along some line or another but how is policy or law supposed to be crafted or explained with such broad terms?

If in a business plan proposed to a bank for financing I put down "My target market is the middle class. I am going to address their needs and concerns with my product or service" I'd wager there's a big rubber stamp with red ink on it awaiting me. If not, then please you or anyone correct me. I'll have a report out on Tuesday for that if it works!

Do you see? I'm trying to work this out and peacefully at that. How can people in positions of power whose decisions affect the lives of millions get away with such broad strokes? Do their scriptwriters/editors catch the phrase? Does a reporter? Does the reader? Parties don't matter, this is totally non-partisan and in support of citizens "average" or not.

I understand what "ain't" implies. I understand what "middle class" implies. But when someone says, "I ain't votin' for that guy." it carries itself differently than "I'm not voting for that guy." Why can't we as citizens expect a bit of specificity then?

"I am going to strengthen the middle class with my proposal."

"My proposal is targeting those who make $20-35,000 per year or up to $55,000 as a household."

That's all I look for. Now we know what we're working with. People can expect something and research it or modify their behavior to qualify. They don't have to guess or feel tricked. Isn't that better? Instead of saying, "The optics encompassing X set in the immediate environment are sub-par to our calculus," can't they just declare, "X didn't turn out as we expected."?

LadyC

While I agree that $15 an hour is excessive for a fast food worker to make around here, I suppose in some of the larger cities with much higher costs of living, it may not be. I do know that it is not affordable to live on minimum wage, and for those of you "elite" people who have all the answers about bettering oneself and becoming successful, it would be interesting to see some of you lose everything due to downsizing or other circumstances, and have to start all over again in this rat race of a job market. I think lower wages would be a bit easier to swallow if there were a few benefits, such as profit sharing and health insurance, and possibly longevity bonuses. Not all college educated and skilled people automatically get a good paying job, and not all fast food workers are unskilled uneducated lowlives. Several of those working the McD's on Perkins Ave. have been there a long time, and are very polite hard-working adults. I've gotta hand it to them.

Nemesis

I've been laid off due to reorganizations twice. Due to my father's specialty as an HR troubleshooter in heavy industry, he would average 5 years at a company before his position was eliminated. Do you have any more meaningless questions?

Here's a counter-question for all you bleeding hearts. Say you're shopping for a new car, and you want a Ford Fusion. Suppose Matthews has it at MSRP of $21,900 (3020 times current minimum wage. but Artino is asking $45,300 (3020 times the $15 these burger flippers are demanding.) Of course, Artino has a sob story about how their employees all have big families to feed. So, where are you going to buy your car? Things look a little different when you're deciding how to spend your OWN money, eh?

Rosa

LadyC
Nice to hear some empathy....

AJ Oliver

Hey hero (sic?) & Grumps - To learn about classes, take a sociology course.

grumpy

So you can't/won't define the terms middle class and/or working class. You must then not know what you are speaking/writing about. I didn't figure you could/would. You mouth words that someone else writes and don't understand the terms used.

Do you mean the middle 1/3 of income earners? Do you mean the 2% -20% ?.. 5% - 30%. Do you know? How about "working" class does that mean everyone who has a job? Is there an upper limit? Does part time count as working class? What about those unemployed, how about those long term unemployed who have given up looking and are on welfare? How about those who are on disability? Does mid level management count? how about the head office? The CEO?

Or are you clueless about what you mean when you use those terms? I am not asking what an economist uses, nor a social worker, or even a sociologist since they all use different criteria, but am asking what your definition is. Again I bet you can't/won't come up with an answer.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

That is not an answer. You can't support a statement with nothing or defer a question asked in good faith to have you clarify that support. You just can't go "you know...the middle class, they're the ones in the middle". There is no such thing and to classify people is humiliating and inhumane.

It also presumes you know everything about who they are, what they believe, their income/assets/etc., what they want to do as well as their intentions and motivations. But here, since you can't define (we can sign up for sociology together at Firelands, I enjoy learning) it I took your advice and used non-partisan dictionary.com to enlighten me:

middle class
noun
1. a class of people intermediate between the classes of higher and lower social rank or standing; the social, economic, cultural class, having approximately average status, income, education, tastes, and the like.
2. the class traditionally intermediate between the aristocratic class and the laboring class.
3. an intermediate class.
Origin:
1760–70

So what this means is that it is a 250+ year old word that is nebulous and carries no specificity. How are you supposed to create laws, policies, and compelling arguments for a "class" that doesn't exist and born from a socio-economic day and age that is no longer the norm from when that term was first used?

Shall we also put a scarlet "A" on all adulterers because that was what we did back in those days? That's a class of people, too. We can write criminal and societal law based on those in the A-class. How else can we classify people?

I'm not trying to be sarcastic here, I am trying to make a point that those are throwaway words that don't mean anything. I'm sure there's programs out there that I'm not "middle class enough" to qualify for while there are others that I do. Or am I working class because I actually work and don't make a lot of money?

Consider yourself whatever you want to, but please don't rope others in on it. It's as insulting as any other stereotype. If you want a fun exercise, talk to someone else who believes in the "middle class" and ask them what they think it means then compare it to a list you wrote down beforehand and see if it matches up. But don't use terms like "not too rich but not getting aid".

Believing in the individual and supporting, loving, or addressing them is a much better route. Because when you do that none of the bitter divisions that stratify us exist. It also let's people account for a law that they clearly fall into its parameters. I may make $20k/year and get overjoyed I hear of "middle class tax relief" because I think I am in that class. But when it is passed I learn that it only affects those who make $20,001-$50,000. I imagine the person making $50,500 would be upset too.

kURTje

Hope we can take away Social Security . What a waste of $$ ollyere.

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