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

AJ Oliver

Grumps & Anti-hero - I'd be glad to engage you in an exchange of ideas if you at least had the little bit of courage it takes to put your names on your posts.
Nonetheless, since I'm in a good mood . .
This is from the LA Times -

For the previous 30 years, from 1945 through the 1970s, middle-class Americans shared in the nation's growing prosperity. Based on Labor Department reports, economists tell us the productivity of the U.S. workforce rose 97% from 1945 to 1973, and the income of the average family rose 95%. In short, average workers reaped the benefits of rising U.S. efficiency along with their bosses.

But since 1973, the picture has changed: Productivity has risen 80%, economists report, but the average family's income has risen only 10%, and that bump has come primarily because more women have entered the workforce, not because wages have gone up. According to the Census Bureau, the typical male worker made the same hourly pay and benefits in 2011 as in 1978, adjusted for inflation. Three decades of going nowhere.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I am happy to engage you in such an exchange especially as I very much use my name on every post I write and use no other alias or sock-puppet account here. So now that that is off the table I will also advise you that resorting to name-calling and personal attacks undermine your credibility in such an exchange.

The two paragraphs you use describe absolutely nothing. It is fluff. Filler. Vapor. Devoid of meaning. As what was written must be meaningful to you, I will have you interpret it for me since I fail to see how anything written here remotely defines anything (again, with the core being that "classifying" people like this is inhumane and degrading).

1. What is a "middle-class American"?
2. What are the "reports" and what was the content and purpose of them? I can make up statistics about anything I want.
3. Who are these "economists"? What is their level of education/experience, place of employment?
4. What do they mean by "productivity"? Lunch breaks can be considered productive by some and not productive by others.
5. What is an "average worker"?
6. What is a "typical male worker"?

These are two paragraphs of wasted fluff. You want names and details from me so you can presumably know who you are talking to and gauge their words? You should be miffed that these economists are being sourced anonymously! There is no context, no specificity, and the only "hard numbers" are years and percentages. Percentages for which no other numerical support nor details are given. I can do that too!

* * * * *

According to a local business, normal widget production is up 9.8% from 1987-2012. While production increased, assembly decreased 2-3% for all widgets, especially non-normal ones. This same business disregards any other variable and generally leans, perhaps, in the direction that maybe it was because of other things that this happened.

* * * * *

Looks like I can work at the L.A. Times, too. This is the kind of crack reporting that I can use as a lawmaker to help forge my policy decisions. Or as an investor, I was convinced that I can invest all my money in a company. After all if they show a 100% profit increase from one year to the next that must be a solid basis to invest. I want a share of that fat cash of making $2,000 instead of $1,000.

I am not trying to be provocative and contentious here, but rather trying to illustrate these terms like middle-class are meaningless garbage. You yourself who wields these words and believes in them can't define them, instead deflecting it twice now for someone else to do or trying to leave it up to me to interpret. I'm not calling out your intelligence, I am trying to appeal to it that you are talking about outdated, divisive terms. There is no mote of doubt in my mind that the topic of economics and how it affects humanity is a passionate issue for you. You express that well. All I ask here is that you actually think about the words you use and the ambiguity and harm they contain.

PyrkinsPyrate

I will not define "working class" or "middle class" but I can tell you that low class is a grown man who sells comic books badgering a retired Social Sciences professor while not grasping that educated people know and readily use terms like productivity (measure of revenue output per unit of labor and capital input) and educated people use such terms without lowering the level of discussion to have to define such common terms. Do not expect someone of Oliver's education to have to explain the most basic terms for you. Read some Mankiw instead of Superman.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

If Oliver is a retired Social Sciences professor I would have expected better decorum than name-calling, one-percenting, and "faux news" use. Is that what he does with all students? Additionally I would also suspect that once someone opens themselves up for being educated that a teacher would oblige. I am wide open to learn! However I can't accept "he's too smart to have to explain to you". I didn't just fall off a turnip truck and I enjoy the degree I earned as well for the start it has given me. I ask questions. I ask my doctors about medicines and procedures. I listen critically to politicians and pundits. I also do read a lot more than Superman especially as I am not fond of him as a character.

What I am trying to explore here is that people just talk about a middle class without having any kind of consensus or measure about what it is. Anyone who makes $20-100,000? Is it just income or what else does it count? I am tired of hearing this word used so often with no context or other information. "Middle Class Tax Reform", again, sounds great! But what are the details? Who is middle-class enough to fall into its boundaries? Are you buying a new car? Awesome! What type is it? Oh...a car type car? What color? Car color?

See what I mean?

A doctor can't just tell you that "you have cancer" and provide nothing else, even if they think of their patient in a condescending manner. Explain it in layman's terms then. There are many different types of cancer that have different treatments, etc. When a patient wants a description of what is going on, blowing it off on the presumption that "I'm a doctor, I don't have to explain myself to you" is absurd.

I am not pretending to be smart, I am asking questions. Just like you I don't define those classes. Just like AJ I am passionate about people and want to help their incomes. I'm not sitting on a hill of absolute knowledge and moral authority. Like you pointed out with another commentator, their poo stinks as much as anyone else's and mine's included!

I will ask though that you don't presume personal things about me through attacks on my character/name calling, my business, nor level of education especially when I am asking questions and attempting to understand a topic instead of preaching.

Nemesis

Especially since the leftists have redefined "middle class" to essentially mean everyone not on welfare. Middle class originally meant the educated professional class between the "working class" (i.e. laborers, or in deer and dog's terms proletariat) and the investor class (the 1%.) 50 years ago the suggestion that someone could be middle class without a bachelor's degree was preposterous, but leftist politicians, courting votes, have expanded their definition to include anyone with a job, including barely literate burger flippers.

cockynurse

Let them strike! Then, fire them all. My student loans were over $50k and my first RN job offer was $18/hr and that was in 2008, part time, zero benefits.

AJ Oliver

Dear Ms. Nurse. I'm very sorry about your plight, but your story is typical of what working people now experience in the U.S.. It does no good whatsoever to turn on those even worse off than you. In the 1900's working people got social security, the 8 hour day, child lablor laws, and more because they were UNITED. Unless we regain that unity, we will keep getting shafted.

Rosa

Thank you AJ

Pastor Ron

Have to say Hero Zone your lack of understanding of basic economic principles makes your inability to get on the ballot a blessing from heaven. It amazes me that you lack the ability to see that raising the minimum wage would put more money in the pockets of your customers so that they can buy your products. I bet Kinzel has never been in your establishment but I bet quite a few of your customers earn minimum wage.

PyrkinsPyrate

Hey, Pastor Ron. How many of your "customers" of your double wide trailer with a wooden cross on top of your church out there toward Willard are minimum wage earners? You just want minimum wage raised so you can shake your congregation down for more tithes. Do you make them tithe their food stamps too?

Nemesis

His understanding of economics is just fine - HE runs a successful business - how about you?

Most of his minimum wage earning customers live with their parents and thus all of their wages go to discretionary spending. In case you didn't notice, the primary adult market for his wares consists of highly skilled technical professionals who make much more.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

So let's say minimum wage goes to $15/hour or even $9 as the President suggested. What then when that has the same purchasing power as $7.x? Why is there still poverty in Australia and Canada? I don't want a quick fix and I certainly don't like seeing my own community in economic despair. I WANT a meaningful discussion. I want more than a band-aid that is reapplied every x-months. That's what I want. A more/permanent solution. To talk about things with people who may very well know more than I do.

I don't know you nor the community you serve through your stated profession as a pastor. But I bust my butt as I can presume you do too to make sure the people in your community have jobs and homes. That they know about what is going on in the area for events or access to aid/resources. That you offer confidence, mentoring, and a guiding opinion in what to do in a certain social situation or with their money.

I presume you offer kids and adults an enjoyable place to spend hours a day socializing with others. Kids that include middle and high schoolers. College students. College graduates. Adults. Some kids or adults with special needs/considerations or even use what happens there as a social and learning outlet for homeschooling.

I am not sure if Mr. Kinzel has been in my store. Probably not. I can tell you that yes many of my customers do make minimum wage because many are on their first jobs or in a transition job. I also have factory workers, teachers, retailers, engineers. Catholics, pagans, atheists, gays, straights, and all manner of other background that makes a person who they are.

If having someone who fosters that environment as well as participates in City Council meetings and the Crime Prevention Council is a blessing from heaven to not have on the other side of the microphone that is your opinion. I figured people would like a question-asker and result-seeker. But, what I do isn't for personal gain, it is through honest effort in improving the lives of others around me. Socially and economically. I'll invite you to the store to see for yourself and also have you ask the local businesses if they get "my kids" in their doors for food and drink. I will also invite you to ask the police if my store is a nuisance in the neighborhood.

I may not have my business degree in economics specifically, but I must be doing something right to still be around selling paper, plastic, and cardboard to people (even in tough times) after all these years. Please consider that before casting a stone. Thank you.

PyrkinsPyrate

You keep on mouthing off to Pastor Ron and I bet he will show up at your store with some of his disciples to check it out and I am certain that he will determine that a large portion of your inventory is either "demonic" in origin, involves "witchcraft", or is simply satanic and involves "magick". You do not want to invite that guy to your place. My cleaning lady has a sister who is wrapped up in his so called church and I have heard all about how he operates. He is really big on homeschooling even though most of his followers are out from Keystone or Edison, I can't believe that hanging out in a comic book store is somehow a reasonable component of home schooling as you stated. Maybe you can explain it better to him when he shows up in his great big Suburban with his lumbering hulking cattle rustler of a son driving and a handful of ghastly looking guys in old black suits that look like vampires or 19th century undertakers as Grant Wood would have painted them, then all those "sister wife" looking women in their long dresses and bonnets. I really hope he shows up there with his mobile freak show. Watch and see, he will try to cast demons out of there and just creep everyone out, making a spectacle of themselves.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

In the famous words of Jackie Chan, "I don't want no trouble!"

On another note I do appreciate your feedback from before/above, Pyrkins. It is frustrating at times trying to have a dialog about things or have questions answered.

As far as my inventory goes, parody or not, he will probably find just such an array since I do carry games and comics that blatantly feature magic powers, necromancy (or the odd reanimating virus), and contact with otherworldly beings.

How does it come into contact with homeschooling?

Well, first and foremost the shop is a 5,000 sqft. social place and sometimes exclusion from others at home (if they aren't in a homeschool group) can be remedied by coming out and enjoying recreation with other kids. Add to that the math, reading, art, and language skills that the games and comics foster. It's also good to teach sportsmanship, strategy, and competitiveness. Comics and graphic novels are a minority of my sales, actually. We are a community center, then tabletop/hobby game retailer, then snack vendor, then comic store.

I appreciate the heads up though if you do think he is a danger. If he comes and looks for trouble the Register and police will have a video to see. But if he comes in good faith, the invitation stands as we certainly do serve the non-mainstream type of person.

PyrkinsPyrate

I think it is nice that the mis-fits have a place to go. Back in my day it was just D&D and we didn't have any place to go and do that sort of thing and get the validation of achieving a social critical mass that changes stray misfits into a viable community. If we would have tried to be openly into role playing and games and stuff we would have been humiliated. I am glad these kids got a place to be themselves and with other people just like them. For that I can overlook the magick and witchcraft. Pastor Ron, not so much. It's probably been awhile since you got some Deuteronomy thrown at you, he'll come in there like a building inspector but instead of building code violations he will write down all the things going on that do not comply with ancient Hebrew mythology.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Thank you. We may very well be misfits and wear that label proudly, but we do so for the reasons you mentioned. Whatever your opinion of me individually, I promise you and will look you in the eyes to swear on anything you hold dear that the community that is fostered here is one that promotes viability and success. Even in the face of adversity and humiliation*.

While I don't read Superman, I can tell you the most touching story that happened in this store involves him. A few summers ago there was a CP employee who started coming to the store. He had some medical problem including early arthritis from how it looked. But he was a young guy, college age. Because of his conditions his weight was high, too, and he wore glasses. Perfect bully bait.

But, when he came in he was greeted and we talked. He said he likes Superman because to him it represented (effectively, I am summarizing) things that he couldn't achieve due to his conditions. He bought comics for a while and over the weeks I got to learn more about him and his interests talking for hours about the things he likes and why.

One day he comes in and says it's his last day. Knowing from prior talks his contract wasn't up for a few more weeks (and from my own employment at CP you lose that bonus) I asked what was wrong, why he was quitting. He replied that he was being made fun of too much at work and the dorms and couldn't take it any more. But he wanted to come in one last time to pick up his Superman and wish me goodbye saying that this place was the best part of his summer.

I was almost in tears. What do you say to that other than stammer out a "thank you"?

So if I ever do come across as harsh or aggressive on here when it comes to things like labels, personal attacks, name-calling, or the lack of specifics (that last one being more out of being very inquisitive) that is a contributing reason. It's no excuse if I get out line, however, and if you or anyone else reading this feel that I do then please correct me...I am a human, too, and always seeking learning and input.

*EDIT: I put an asterisk above to delve a bit more into what you said because it is meaningful. The young people who come down here are from very different lives. Some face domestic abuse and problems. Some face mental, physical, or social challenges. Some have had friends/family attempt or succeed at suicide. Many struggle with the day-to-day. Not everyone and even those who lead more "normal" lives with two parents, stable income, etc. interact seamlessly with those that don't.

Because their interests are easily misunderstood it can be hard for them to socialize as they have trouble effectively expressing themselves. Despite this, there is a tremendous amount of camaraderie and intelligence. We have "cells" of people working together all over the area. That way they can make an otherwise bleak work experience more manageable. We've had marriages and births in our community, and as real life happens to do, neither of those are always synced up.

But it continues. It perseveres because we make it happen together as that band of misfits. Speaking for myself, anyone who does this business expecting to get rich is a fool. What I lack in personal income is made up for by exactly what you read above. Considering everything I sell can be bought online cheaper with rare exception, I have to ensure I give people reasons every day to come down and spend their very, VERY hard earned-money with me so I can keep the lights on, doors open, and then bring some home for that set of doors and lights.

If I manufacture anything it is memories and time. Feelings, experiences, and other intangibles. I am not sure I could make it if I just had to sell retail. As Pastor Ron noted above my bid for City Council failed. That was because I waited until ten days to go for it, being urged on by many and HEAVILY considering its pros and cons. After deciding to do it I found out it was difficult to get signatures in-house because most of my "kids" aren't from Sandusky city. So the community I serve rallied on my behalf, and...

I let them down. In my excitement and rush I forgot to sign the statement of candidacy on two petitions. It voided all the signatures on each and dropped me below the minimum.

It was embarrassing to say the least. Not that someone else beat me, but that I beat myself in my drive to do better for people.

Meh...I'm rambling now instead of editing. But there is always two years from now I suppose.

PyrkinsPyrate

Well Nemesis, Pastor Ron drives a $55,000 Chevy Suburban or whatever the GMC model of Suburban is called. I would say a church is a fine business to run. But a person can not have a real understanding of economics if they are puzzled by the most basic terms used in Economics and Sociology. Being perplexed by the terms "Middle Class" and "Working Class" or "Productivity" demonstrates that the user has had no real education in the subject. Skip Oliver was a Poli-Sci prof at Heidleberg. Yet idiots accuse him of not being able to define basic terms. If a person feels the label is loaded then they can deflect and say "While most academics consider persons working for wages to be working class, I find the term offensive".

Nemesis

No one was perplexed - he simply wanted to know someone's position on what constitutes middle class, which is NOT an economic term - it's a political term. As I pointed out above, its meaning has been expanded considerably since its inception, for political purposes.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

You certainly wear your username well, Nemesis. You are a tough cookie. I appreciate your comment. I'm still mulling over your comments made in the Amish hospital case. A part of me read and agrees with the case you laid out. It wants to scream "YES, THAT'S SO IT!" Another part though wants to agree with what people like cockynurse are saying. Ugh, it's frustrating at times trying to figure things out...

But, that's why I pay attention and ask a lot of questions. It leads to resolutions and I think Pyrkins and I are leveled out now? Or agree to disagree? Some kind of neutrality or respect. I am taking him up on his reading suggestion either way, even though I was going more for what you put out there with my intention.

Learning opportunities are around every corner and this economist brought up was apparently able to have most of his class walk out on him to join Occupy Boston. So that's kind of an eyebrow-raiser.

Nemesis

The most popular school of thought among professional economists depends at its foundation upon things like "animal spirits." In other words, most professional economists, like most professionals in all the social sciences, are still stuck in the stage where chemistry was when bearded guys in star-covered pointy hats were trying to figure out how to turn lead into gold.

Cockynurse and others in that other thread are focusing narrowly on the one case without considering the broader implications for society. You can't prevent all tragedies, and sometimes, trying to do so actually creates more of them.

PyrkinsPyrate

Let's seeing running a comic book shop demonstrates an understanding of Economics. I just looked up the faculty of the Economics department at MIT. Amazing, none of them have running a comic book shop down as their qualifications.....Stanley Fisher ran a successful Fish Taco Truck in Key West before selling his 1 millionth Fish Taco earned him a chair, Robert Solow ran a stand selling vintage Star Wars action figures at a flea market, Les Thurow ran a successful Lazer Tag place before MIT snatched him up and Esther Duflo ran a hobby store specializing in HO scale trains before going to MIT but none of them ran a comic book store.

AJ Oliver

So let me see, the most wealthy country in the history of the world is somehow unable to create decent paying jobs and benefits for the bottom half of the population. Yet a number of other, less wealthy, countries are somehow able to do so. What is wrong with this picture?
And let me repeat, if you engage in personal attacks from behind a curtain of anonymity, you just might be an abject COWARD.

Nemesis

Which is why those countries are less wealthy, It's not anyone's responsibility to "create" decent paying jobs. It's the responsibility of every individual to find a way to offer value commensurate with the resources he consumes. That value is defined by how much someone is WILLING to pay for your services, based on THEIR estimation of your value proposition.

See my comment of 08/30/2013 - 10:41pm and answer the question there.

LadyC

While some of you continue to bash and belittle the fast food workers and their worth as humans, you may want to consider how many jobs have left this country due to outsourcing. Not just manufacturing jobs, but technical, sales, and call center jobs. The entry level jobs that remain are so low-paying or part-time, that they need to be supplemented, sometimes with a fast food or retail gig. And I won't even get into which political party signed what, the fact remains that American corporations could have enough social responsibility to invest in their own workers or at least pay above slave wages to their foreign ones. They are the ones robbing the Social Security system; American workers pay 6.2% of their wages into it, and the employer pays another 6.2%. Foreign slaves? nada. These same "successful" people more than likely have illegals working their gardens and households, and invest offshore. And the service industry employees such as fast food workers, motel housekeepers, and STNAs that (God forbid) have a child or two (sarcasm) are of course going to qualify for govt assistance and tax credits, because they make POVERTY wages. Another win for the big corporations, the government picks up the tab and the workers get frowned upon as "entitled." What a mess.

Rosa

Lady C
You summed it up nicely...

Nemesis

There's no bashing here; simply the observation that the any job is worth what someone is willing to pay for it, based on supply and demand. The more people are able to do a job, the less it will pay. The fewer people who can do a job, the more it will pay.

Go and read the chapter of "Tom Sawyer" about whitewashing the fence for a lesson you badly need.

AJ Oliver

Well no. Mr. "Hero Zone", we do not know who you are. Man and/or Woman Up !!!

Nemesis

He's a well known downtown business owner posting under the name of his business. Only an idiot wouldn't know who he is. Are you claiming that status?

Even if he wasn't known, it's irrelevant. Respond to what he said instead of fixating on who he is. Who he is doesn't matter, and the ONLY reason to concern yourself with is the need to find hooks on which to hang ad hominem fallacies.

AJ Oliver

Economics is an ideology desguised as a science. Many mainstream economists are blatently dishonest, telling the corporatists and One Percenters what they want to hear. Data is massaged until the masters are satisfied. Check out Rogoff and Reinhart - who really ought to be fired if academic integrity meant anything.
And Mr. Hero - if you cannot pay your employees a living wage, you shuld not be in business. Millions of low wage workers make so little that they have to rely on food stamps to get by. That means the rest of us a subsidizing YOUR business.
Come on, brave one, what's you name?

Nemesis

"Economics is an ideology desguised as a science."

says the guy who's been quoting economists so much.

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