Fast-food protests return

Workers across the country walked off their jobs to fight for a $15 an hour wage
Associated Press
Dec 5, 2013

Fast-food workers and labor organizers marched, waved signs and chanted in cities across the country on Thursday in a push for higher wages.

Organizers say employees planned to forgo work in 100 cities, with rallies set for another 100 cities. But by late afternoon, it was unclear what the actual turnout was or how many of the participants were workers. At targeted restaurants, the disruptions seemed minimal or temporary.

The protests are part of an effort that began about a year ago and is spearheaded by the Service Employees International Union, which has spent millions to bankroll local worker groups and organize publicity for the demonstrations. Protesters are calling for pay of $15 an hour, but the figure is seen more as a rallying point than a near-term possibility.

At a time when there's growing national and international attention on economic disparities, advocacy groups and Democrats are hoping to build public support to raise the federal minimum wage of $7.25. That comes to about $15,000 a year for full-time work.

On Thursday, crowds gathered outside restaurants in cities including Boston, Lakewood, Calif., Phoenix, Washington, D.C., and Charlotte, N.C., where protesters walked into a Burger King but didn't stop customers from getting their food.

In Detroit, about 50 demonstrators turned out for a pre-dawn rally in front of a McDonald's. A few employees said they weren't working but a manager and other employees kept the restaurant open.

Julius Waters, a 29-year-old McDonald's maintenance worker who was among the protesters, said it's hard making ends meet on his wage of $7.40 an hour.

"I need a better wage for myself, because, right now, I'm relying on aid, and $7.40 is not able to help me maintain taking care of my son. I'm a single parent," Waters said.

In New York City, about 100 protesters blew whistles and beat drums while marching into a McDonald's at around 6:30 a.m.; one startled customer grabbed his food and fled as they flooded the restaurant, while another didn't look up from eating and reading amid their chants of "We can't survive on $7.25!"

Community leaders took turns giving speeches for about 15 minutes until police arrived and ordered protesters out of the store. The crowd continued to demonstrate outside for about 45 minutes.

Later in the day, about 50 protesters rallied outside a Wendy's in Brooklyn. Channon Wetstone, a 44-year-old attorney ended up going to a nearby Burger King because of the protests.

She said fast-food employees work very hard. When asked if she'd be willing to pay more for food so they could earn more, she said it would depend on what she was ordering.

"I would say 50 cents, 75 cents more," Wetstone said.

The push for higher pay in fast food faces an uphill battle. The industry competes aggressively on being able to offer low-cost meals and companies have warned that they would need to raise prices if wages were hiked.

Fast-food workers have also historically been seen as difficult to unionize, given the industry's high turnover rates. But the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 2 million workers in health care, janitorial and other industries, has helped put their wages in the spotlight.

Berlin Rosen, a political consulting and public relations firm based in New York City, is coordinating communications efforts and connecting organizers with media outlets. The firm says its clients are the coalitions in each city, such as Fast Food Forward and Fight for 15. Those groups were established with the help of the SEIU, which is also listed on Berlin Rosen's website as a client.

The National Restaurant Association, an industry lobbying group, said most protesters were union workers and that "relatively few" restaurant employees have participated in past actions. It called the demonstrations a "campaign engineered by national labor groups."

McDonald's, Wendy's and Yum Brands, which owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, said in statements that their restaurants create work opportunities and provide training and the ability to advance. Burger King reissued its statement on past protests, saying its restaurants have provided an entry point into the workforce for millions of Americans.

In the meantime, the protests are getting some high-powered support from the White House. In an economic policy speech Wednesday, President Barack Obama mentioned fast-food and retail workers "who work their tails off and are still living at or barely above poverty" in his call for raising the federal minimum wage.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has promised a vote on the wage hike by the end of the year. But the measure is not expected to gain traction in the House, where Republican leaders oppose it.

Supporters of wage hikes have been more successful at the state and local level. California, Connecticut and Rhode Island raised their minimum wages this year. Last month, voters in New Jersey approved an increase in the minimum to $8.25 an hour, up from $7.25 an hour.

 

Comments

dontknowmuch

Fry cook want $15 hour? Learn a trade! Develop a skill! Further education! Washing lettuce and salting fries not meant to be a living wage.

Unassumer

a fry cook is a trade and requires skill. working for Burger King is not being a fry cook. washing lettuce and salting fries is not cooking either. all jobs should pay a living wage realistically and some jobs that pay minimum wage should be reevaluated because some require a worker to complete many more duties than BK employees. it's obvious that you don't know much.

KnuckleDragger

LOL...that's a slap in the face to real skilled tradesman who has received years of training in many cases to earn their journeyman card. It take like half a day to learn how to throw burgers on the conveyer belt and run them through the machine that flame broils them at Burger King. This is a job even the village idiot can do and requires no special training. You are the one who obviously doesn't know much.

Pete

So you applied to Burger Apprenticeship School, took an aptitude test, and then were accepted into the program from there?

How long is the apprenticeship? What are the step increases? Is it an NLRB recognized program?

YoMamma

$10.00 Big Macs! Whoop whoop!

AEversole

Price of gas has tripled, milk, nat gas,and electric doubled. The cost of living has doubled in the last ten to tweleve years and wages have nt seen much of any kind of meaningful increase. Its stupid and ignorant to think that is ok and acceptable. The Ceo and major corperations get rich at the expense of the lower and middle class.... min wage jobs make up the majority of the work force in alot of communities and should definitely be raised, maybe not doubled but a substantial raise is needed. And this country use to be filled with jobs that if you were willing ti work hard a put in the time you could make a good living, and them days are gone. I know plenty of people with bachelors degrees that are stuck working dead end jobs with no chance of advancement.

vicariouslyAlive

Minimum wage has almost doubled in 20 years. Back in 04 the minimum wage earner was ahead if the curve... now the curve has caught up.

Employers are still looking for hard workers. I got a new job 2 months ago paying what the burger flippers ate crying for. Easy as pie with a little effort.

reader

So you go to Wally Mart and buy all that crap from overseas where all the decent manufacturing jobs flowed to and you didn't expect people to get fed up with service jobs?

How many of you can remember all the manufacturing plants, foundries etc. we had here in Sandusky where a person could work and afford to have a modest home and raise a family?

Those jobs all flowed overseas in search of the lowest wage countries and we're left with the cost of social programs to support those falling through the cracks, not born with a silver spoon, or lucky enough to catch a break and get on somewhere decent.

Our economy has always been consumer driven. Big business better wise up and realize if the workers can't afford to buy products,,,,,the house of cards will fall apart.

Excuse me for venting....but how many of our social problems would be eliminated if there were mmore decent jobs available?

AEversole

Some of you have no clue at all... I have had money and I have been poor. Untill you have been in the situation of busting your butt for peanuts and not knowing where you were going to eat and sleep, while the whole time working and going to school trying to better your self, I don't expect you to understand, most people are selfish and ignorant. They had help from the time they were kids. Parents helped pay for cars, rent, and schooling and then they graduate and their parents friends set them up with interviews at big companies straight out if school. Most of these people claim to have worked so hard and have had it so difficult along their padded path to success. . I can read post after post and tell who you are. Its funny but yet so so sad

Unassumer

absolutely. these people need to walk a mile in the burger flipping aisle!

KnuckleDragger

These people you speak of, can you name them? You speak as though everyone who has a job you are envious of was born with a silver spoon and didn't work hard to achieve it. I have a sibling who tried to tell me that was my case. I told them that was ridiculous. First of all we were both born of the same parents, both worked at New Departure and retired from there. They made a decent wage but I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I got my first job when I was 13 shoveling horse excrement from stalls at Steinen's Stables. I worked continuously from 13 until now at various jobs including cleaning swimming pools, and working in several fast food places. At 18 I went in the Air Force, something I had planned on doing a 4 yr hitch in and then moving on. I found after the first couple of years that I enjoyed the military and it gave me a sense of accomplishment and fulfilled my need to serve people. I managed to make a 21 yr career out of it.

I didn't stop there though. I took advantage of my time in and went to school, first I became a Paramedic, then I earned my Bachelor's Degree and then a Master's. When I retired, I was able to acquire a decent job in healthcare thanks to my efforts at networking while I was in the military as well as moonlighting in health care jobs while I was serving in the military. None of it happened due to me having a silver spoon in my mouth or because my parents knew people. I actively made it happen while I was in the military since I knew someday I would retire and would need to find other employment. Most people with good jobs are not there due to their parents, they are there because they spent the time educating themselves for the career they choose and then put out the effort to network with other professionals in order to obtain job leads and get a foot in the door. Sorry to tell you, the days of dropping off an application at an employer and hoping for a phone call are over. The jobs go to the ones who show the initiative to go after them. That means education, networking, and persistance. If you don't follow up on a position within 24hrs of submitting a resume there is a pretty good chance you won't get the job. You need to be persistant and put yourself out there. That's my advice, whether you feel it is useful is up to you.

dorothy gale

I agree. And trying to argue the point is useless. I believe hard work should be compensated fairly. So many people seem to believe they are so much better than those who have the grunt jobs. WORKERS deserve a little more. There is no shame in working hard, getting dirty, performing a service, and those who do these things daily should be compensated for it.

Nemesis

Define "fairly" - how much is enough?

The market does an excellent job - if your skills are in demand, employers will compete to get your services.

AEversole

Some of you have no clue at all... I have had money and I have been poor. Untill you have been in the situation of busting your butt for peanuts and not knowing where you were going to eat and sleep, while the whole time working and going to school trying to better your self, I don't expect you to understand, most people are selfish and ignorant. They had help from the time they were kids. Parents helped pay for cars, rent, and schooling and then they graduate and their parents friends set them up with interviews at big companies straight out if school. Most of these people claim to have worked so hard and have had it so difficult along their padded path to success. . I can read post after post and tell who you are. Its funny but yet so so sad

Bottom Line

It's so obvious that raising the minimum wage, let alone to something as ridiculous as paying someone $15 per hour to flip burgers, hurts so many people in the long run. Including the people its "supposed" to help. Just a big distraction for Obama because his healthcare is a disaster. And the media is a willing accomplice and plays the role he needs them to.

Dr. Information

Raise the wages and people will just go out a get a bigger TV or smarter smart phone. They won't save. They will spend it and then complain again that it's not fair. You want to earn more you have to EARN it, it's not given to you.

Unassumer

the protesters are the people that are working their butts off for peanuts while holier than thous like you are telling them it's all their fault they didn't have enough money to keep their electric on or buy food. many don't have big tv's or smart phones or any phone at all. you're another one that's never been there.

KnuckleDragger

The protestor's are paid hacks of the SEIU. The media has already proven that the people protesting are not the ones working at these places. This is the unions yearly attempt to bolster their numbers. They send people out to chant about a $15/hr living wage all the while they are paying those protestor's $10/hr. Hypocrisy at its finest.

Dr. Information

Unassumer. These protesters are not even McD's workers. They are part of D15, a conglomeration of multiple organizations, including Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the National Action Network.

Must be easy for the union guy at the protest."I want them to get paid," said James Monger, a 54-year-old, $23-per-hour union construction worker entering the restaurant during the protest. "These (owners) make money."

Does anyone actually know what a McDonalds franchise owner actually makes a year? 10% of its sales. Yup, highway robbery (sarcasm).

Anyone know how much McDonalds has to pay our in royalties? The franchisees are currently paying up to 12% of store sales in rent.

Opening a major restaurant franchise is impossible for the average American.

McDonald's usually requires "$750,000 of non-borrowed personal resources" before considering an application, according to its website.

Bottom line. Before you open your mouth about how its so unfair, know your facts. Store owners aren't running away with anything and they are putting up a substantial amount of money (that takes a long time to pay off) to open a store.

Some people are just uneducated beyond repair.

Nemesis

The UCFW sent paid picketers to march in front of a Super WalMart for minimum wage with no benefits. After watching them march around for hours in all sorts of weather for a few days, the manager went out there, handed them all applications and told them what he was paying. They were all working for WalMart before the end of the day. He called the Local that sent them and asked them to send him some more because he needed more staff.

Nor'easter

Has anyone considered the unintended consequences caused by raising the minimum wage. If you double the wage, will we have to double Social Security payments to offset inflation? Double food stamps for the unemployed? Double the income tax? Trying to artificially boost an economy was tried in 2009, result has been disastrous.

Contango

I only patronize fast food joints while traveling and even then I only get coffee.

H*ll, if $15.00/hr. is good, why not $50.00/hr.?

Wanna know why the poor are getting poorer?

As an example: Since 2000 ALONE, the U.S. dollar has lost approx. 38% of it's value.

Look no further for your answers than the Federal Resv. and U.S. monetary and fiscal policies for the past 50 yrs.

Contrary to the wrong-headed progressives, this issue did NOT begin with the Bush Admin.

looking around

Contango, a captain of industry such as yourself shouldn't be eating at fast food restaurants anyway. it's so beneath you! Ruth's Chris would suit your taste better. Why worry if the burger flippers and drive thru window worker want in on a little of the action of the franchise owner....

Contango

Re: "Ruth Cris"

Never been in one.

You wrongly assume how most self-made people became wealthy and what their tastes are.

You have no idea who the vast majority of wealthy are in this country. But you more than likely believe the populist tripe.

Those that flaunt it usually ain't got it and are generally up to their eyeballs in debt.

A somewhat out of date, but still relevant book for you:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The...

My spouse and I are EXCELLENT cooks. We seldom eat out.

looking around

You assume that I'm not self made and wealthy as well? I wonder how you make such assumptions? I can assure you it is quite to the contrary. But unlike yourself I've never placed myself on a pedestal and looked down on those who's struggles have not resulted in the same success.

Contango

Re: "You assume that I'm not self made and wealthy as well?"

Hey! If you wanna eat at Ruth Cris or fly to Paris for lunch in your private jet, it's OK with me.

How is a "wealthy progressive" not an oxymoron?

----------------------

Re: "looked down on those,"

Keep wrongly assuming, it makes your posts funny.

H*ll, I want everyone to be wealthy don't you?

Unfortunately, most will not or do not want to take the time, or will not expend the energy to understand basic personal finance and economics.

The mythical Robin Hood stole from the rich (the govt & the church) and gave back to the taxpayers - works for me!

Stop It

+1

Pete

Did the SEIU deduct taxes from the money they paid the protestors and issue a 1099?

Also, did they deduct union dues from the money they paid?

I wonder how many of the paid protestors could pass a drug test. For that matter, how many at McD's, BK, Wendy's et al could pass a wizz test?

donutshopguy

Raise the minimum wage to what ever dollar value you want. Those additional costs will be passed on in the cost of the product.

Raising the minimum wage does not solve the problem it compounds it.

coasterfan

I do think that $15 per hour is an unrealistic request. Obama's suggestion of around $10/hr. is a better idea. Although some of the workers are well-educated and underemployed due to the recession, many are working minimum wage because they don't have anything beyond a HS diploma or GED. So, $10 an hour will allow them to at least earn a living wage, while not devaluing the salary the rest of us receive.

I worked hard during HS and worked hard during college, and as a result, have always had the training that allowed me to get higher-paying jobs.
Scholarships and grants are available to those who can't afford college, but are only given to those who earn good grades in college. However, before conservatives jump on that bandwagon, we need to mention that they are complicit in the under-education of the poor, since they typically vote to cut funding of education at the local and state level.

We really need to stop thinking that every person who is on welfare or food stamps is lazy, and doesn't want to work. No one WANTS to live on a few hundred a week. Low pay perpetuates the problem: If you can only earn $300 a week (before taxes) working at McDonald's, and have to pay for day care and gas to get to work, and even the pittance you get from welfare equals that amount, what would YOU do?

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