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

PyrkinsPyrate

As far as Sandusky celebrities go AJ Oliver only knows the used up worn out old hippies that get involved in their far fetched save the earth crap and the 9 member "Occupy Sandusky" movement and the silly little sustainable house. He would not know someone who works hard, shaves, gets haircuts and believes that government should stay out of our lives not tax the heck out of productive people in order to "promote fairness". You want to know who Skip Oliver is? Look him up on rate my professor.com http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/...

AJ Oliver

Gee Mr. Pyrkins - An anonymous attack. What a surprise.
You are a sniveling coward, got that ?

Nemesis

Sure, just like Benjamin Franklin and James Madison

PyrkinsPyrate

ahhhh the computer is going crazy

PyrkinsPyrate

Just check out Rate my prof

Nemesis

Just checked it out. Zing!!! He put identities on the table, and you showed him why that's not a good idea.

LadyC

Nemesis, I have had plenty of lessons and while I realize the job market is a game of supply and demand in a sense, that doesn't mean that those at the bottom of the corporate ladder don't deserve to negotiate and speak up for what they feel is a fair exchange for their time, dedication, and labor. After all, they represent the place they work for, and often times if someone is treated like crap, it reflects in the way they do their job. "Anyone" may be able to do a number of things, but how many are willing to? Consider the trash man. You sure don't need to be a genius to do it, but it is a very necessary and demanding job, and those who do it deserve fair pay and respect. And I think you may need a bit of a lesson yourself. Watch a couple episodes of "Undercover Boss."

Nemesis

"the job market is a game of supply and demand in a sense, that doesn't mean that those at the bottom of the corporate ladder don't deserve to negotiate and speak up for what they feel is a fair exchange for their time, dedication, and labor."

No, it's not "in a sense;" it just is. Of course everyone deserves the chance to negotiate, but negotiating isn't equal to getting what you want. You don't seem to understand what negotiation is all about. ALL deals are negotiable. When you walk into WalMart, the prices of the products on the shelf are negotiable, BUT, because they will have another thousand people walk in the door today seeking the same product, your negotiating position is impossibly weak. The same thing applies when you take a job that anyone else can do. The strength of someone's negotiating position is directly proportional to their willingness to walk away without a deal. When someone applies for a job at McDonald's, they're free to say they expect to make $15/hour, and the owner will readily walk away without a deal, because there are thousands of people out there who want the job. If you want to make more, improve yourself to offer something that's more scarce.

AJ Oliver

Hey Pyrate, did you enroll in Bullying 101 at Perkins High? I surely hope you did not pass that "talent" along to your kids.
I'm sorry if I am somewhat intemperate here, but I really cannot abide cyber bullies.
I'm also sorry for my part in the thread drift. There have been a number of interesting comments that deserve serious consideration.

Nemesis

Where did Pyrate lay a hand on you or threaten to do so? There's no bullying here. **YOU** made it all about personal identities, and now you're upset to have been hoisted on your own petard. Sorry, but if you're going to make this all about WHO YOU ARE, instead of WHAT YOU SAY, then yes, then you should be prepared to have that come back to bite you.

PyrkinsPyrate

I didn't enroll in Bullying 101 in High School. Now remember this was 1986, things were a bit different, so they allowed me to test out of it. I basically got locked into a room with a bunch of weaklings, a kid who had them braces on his legs, a kid who stuttered, a feeble minded girl and I was able to get the feeble minded girl to stab the stutterer through the cheek with a pencil before the kid with braces choked her out. So basically I was able to CLEP out of a high school class.

PyrkinsPyrate

In general Bullies have been given a very bad rap. A lot of us naked apes can't accept that everywhere else throughout the animal kingdom there is an Alpha male that leads the pack and dictates what the herd norms will be. The Alpha male is either the fastest and strongest or perhaps the smartest, somehow better adapted to succeed in that environment. This is life, this is how it works. 25 years from now the same McFly is going to still be dominated by the so called bully. But that Bully will teach the poor little victim that there are rules in the world that the tall, the smart, the strong and beautiful make up, the poor little victim, despite whatever his gramma told him will learn that the whole world doesn't revolve around victims and victims aren't the brightest lights in the sky even if that is what their daddy told them before he ran off with a truck stop waitress. Bullies teach you how to dress normal and act right, they regulate the systems of incentives of our economy making sure the have nots aspire to higher levels than their own parents attained so their kids will have the right shoes and proper brand of jeans. If it was not for bullies we would have myriad dorks wandering around reading Boba-Fett comic books in High School and wearing Castlevania T-Shirts while the girls end up turning left and taking care of each other.Bullies are like sheep dogs, they round up the stray misfits and shove them back in the herd where they belong. Respect!!!!

Rosa

PyrkinsPyrate
You sound like an idiot...

Nemesis

Yeah but you can't BUY this kind of entertainment!

PyrkinsPyrate

you sound like someone who cleans hotel rooms for a living

Rosa

PyrkinsPyrate
and you sound as if you would not be capable of doing that properly...it is hard work, and when I stay at a hotel or motel, I tip very well because that is hard work, and they certainly deserve more than what they are paid, I would not want to do that.
I hope you did not attend Perkins because you are making them look worse than they have been lately...

AJ Oliver

This is from the research of Dean Baker, an honest economist . .

40% Of Americans Now Make Less Than 1968 Minimum Wage

Read what Baker wrote again. The minimum wage would be $16.50 an hour — $33,000 a year — if it had kept up with the growth of productivity since 1968. To put the effect of this a different way, 40% of Americans now make less than the 1968 minimum wage, had the minimum wage kept pace with productivity gains.

To put this even another way, the average American’s living standard would be much, much higher today if wages had not decoupled from productivity gains – with the gains all going to the 1% instead of being shared by We, the People. If wages had kept pace we wouldn’t feel the terrible squeeze that everyone in the middle class is feeling. (Never mind what has happened to those below the middle class.)

This is one more way to understand the effect of income and wealth inequality on each of us. The 1%/99% thing is real. When you hear that the 6 Walmart heirs have more wealth than 1/3 (or more) of all Americans combined, it is real. When you hear that the people on the Forbes list of the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined, it is real.

And the effects on the rest of us are real.

Nemesis

It's all in how you measure. Has productivity really improved that much? Productivity is typically measured in terms of revenue per employee, so gains can reflect reductions in head count due to automation. It also improves because technology creates better tools. In 1968, most people working a fast food or checkout counter could make change; now the employer has to spend big money on technology to do that for them.

Standard of living? These days, there are plenty of minimum wage dolts who can't make change, but darned if they don't have iPhones and cars with automatic transmissions, A/C, power windows, and built in bluetooth. In 1968, most middle class families had ONE car and zero color TV's.

The Big Dog's back

You don't have a clue dude.

Nemesis

Once again, doggy throws out a soundbite naked assertion. Come back when you have something more meaningful to offer than "I know you are but what am I."

mrlizzzard

Lets see $15 times 30 hours is 450 per week or 1800 per month.

Rent is $500 ,utilities $175,clunker payment and insurance is $300,tuition and or daycare is $500.

That leaves a whopping $375 for FOOD,MEDS,SAVINGS,RETIREMENT,CLOTHING,etc,etc,.

What are they bitchin about?They are living on 1/2 that now.Or are they really living?Like the song says"kick'em kick'em when they are down".

mrlizzzard

Nemesis

One more time, all you bleeding hearts:

You're in the market for a car. There are two dealers in the area who carry that model. Dealer A has it listed at $20K, and Dealer B has it at $40K, but dealer B has 8 kids to feed. Where are you going to buy the car?

The Big Dog's back

Strawman argument.

Nemesis

Demonstrating that you don't even know what that term means. Little doggy likes to throw out words he's heard without understanding them.

LadyC

Nemesis, I don't totally disagree with you. You do make valid points. However, while one is making themselves more valuable via education, creative endeavors, etc. costs have to be met. I think $15 an hour is too much, but I agree that some solidarity amongst those working the trenches is not a bad thing, and a lot of these workers could be encouraged to add value to society and the corporations they worked for if they were treated like they were an important part of the place they work for. Because they are. They are the first impression. And unfortunately, a lot of those in upper management didn't work their way up or show a valuable skill, Daddy or Mommy got them their job through people they knew. And they probably couldn't make change if their life depended on it either. Entitlement comes in many forms.

Nemesis

"However, while one is making themselves more valuable via education, creative endeavors, etc. costs have to be met."

That's why society is structured to give everyone 18 years where they are not responsible for themselves. On top of that, society spends billions on free education for everyone during those years. And yes, if, as a high school graduate, you can't get better than a minimum wage job, then you wasted the opportunity. There are plenty of upscale retailers who will pay well above minimum wage for an 18 year old who has a strong educational foundation, can quickly attain a sophisticated knowledge of their products, and can use proper English to have a professional level conversation with an adult customer about it.

"and a lot of these workers could be encouraged to add value to society and the corporations they worked for if they were treated like...."

They are treated as importantly as they make themselves. Like I said, I had a minimum wage job at 16. The owner of the business quickly realized I wasn't like the other burnouts working there, and gave me some more complex things to do, and when I did them well, I got a raise, more responsibility, and more autonomy, and quickly became the owner's go-to guy when he needed something special done or a problem solved. But here's the thing - when I first started, I got the same treatment as the burnouts - minimum wage, watched all the time to make sure I wasn't stealing, etc. I HAD TO PROVE MYSELF **FIRST** ON THE JOB.

I've known several people who worked at McDonald's. Typically, they wash out a lot of new hires in the first couple months, but if you're there after 6 months, it's because you've proven yourself, and you're no longer making minimum wage. As for management, you can't manage a McDonald's without graduating Hamburger Univ., their management school in Illinois, and it's a very rigorous program.

Sorry, but if you're working fast food, and the only avenue you see to upward mobility is this stupid strike, then you're a dolt. I'm tired of the sob stories from people who can't do 8th grade algebra about how the reason they haven't been made a captain of industry yet is that there's some Byzantine conspiracy by "the man." Every year I see young people who did more than fill a seat in school, who have their act together, moving up in employment by showing that, unlike most of this country, they CAN manage to find their own backside, with one hand and no flashlight.

And by the way, LadyC, you haven't answered my question. When you are shopping for a product or service, you are in the position of these employers. After all, they are just consumers shopping for a service, that service being burger flipping, and the employees are the vendors. Do you spend twice as much on something when you shop out of sympathy for the vendor? Well? It's a little different when it's your money being spent.

The Big Dog's back

You are really wet behind the ears when it comes to people too.

Nemesis

Get back to me when you have a substantive response. Your sound bite twaddle bores me.

LadyC

If you are buying a machine or a piece of equipment to use in your business, you want one that has quality and that will last, and sometimes it will cost a bit more than a cheaper one. Same with labor. You get what you pay for. And a lot of these places stay open late night, when the laws will not allow minors to work past a certain time, and adults are necessary to fill those positions. I'm not saying fast food workers need luxury wages or a lot of expensive benefits, but the ones that do show up and stay there, for whatever reason, and do a good job, should be compensated fairly. In the long run, the costs of job recruiting, training, testing, and whatever else is done in the hiring process probably ends up costing more to an employer than a few incentive raises or bonuses to loyal employees. Not everyone wants or needs to move up a ladder. Many are working moms who are focused on raising their children, or senior citizens who need the extra income, or college students who are focused on their studies. Should they not be paid for their work?

Nemesis

"You get what you pay for."

But only a fool pays for more than he needs. My bathroom mirror isn't cut from a single 3000 caret diamond, I don't cut my lawn with a quarter million dollar combine, and I don't need a gold plated Rolls Royce to go to the corner for an ice cream when I can ride my bicycle. Clearly, since fast food joints aren't exploding or burning down or sending customers to the hospital, the current pay rate is bringing in sufficient talent for the job. They ARE being compensated fairly - they are paid the rate agreed upon hiring for every hour they work. There are federal laws guaranteeing that.

"In the long run, the costs of job recruiting, training, testing, and whatever else is done in the hiring process probably ends up costing more to an employer than a few incentive raises or bonuses to loyal employees."

WOW, you REALLY don't get it. The employers KNOW EXACTLY what all those costs are versus pay rates. If they didn't pay people according to a far better understanding of that relationship than you seem to have, they would go out of business, so they hire ARMIES of accountants and actuaries to figure that out.

"Many are working moms who are focused on raising their children, or senior citizens who need the extra income, or college students who are focused on their studies. Should they not be paid for their work?"

None of those personal factors enhance their value proposition to the employer. They ARE paid for their work, at the rate determined by market forces. It's a free market - no transaction takes place at gunpoint, and both parties have to decide for themselves if the transaction is beneficial to them.

Hey dog, at this point, it's your queue to toss out some childish playground taunt, rather than demonstrate whether you're able to string two or more sentences together in a coherent manner.

Pages