Fast Food Workers “Fight For Fifteen”

Fast food workers from New York to Rome, disgusted by low wages, lack of health insurance and employer wage theft, staged worldwide walkouts on May 15 from McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Wendy’s, Yum! chain restaurants and other employers.

Walkouts occurred in 150 U.S. cities and 33 abroad.  Unions, including the Service Employees and the AFL-CIO, enthusiastically backed the walkouts.  The unions point out that fast-food workers are among the most-exploited in the U.S.

The fast food workers demanded a $15 per hour living wage, more hours on the job, health benefits and the right to organize without employer interference.  Federal figures show restaurant workers, as a group are the lowest-paid sector of the U.S. economy.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka lauded “the spirit and the courage of fast food workers who are striking today.”  He declared: “Every worker deserves fair wages and the right to form a union without retaliation because no one who works full time should struggle to support their family.  That’s why the ‘Fight for Fifteen’ movement is growing.

“The message is clear: Corporations should pay their employees fair wages and Congress should act so no one gets left behind.  Only then will we have an economy that works for all working people,” he said.

Fight for 15, in a posting by its Chicago affiliate, noted fast food is a $200 billion-a-year industry, “yet many service workers across the country earn minimum wage or just above it and are forced to rely on public assistance programs to provide for their families and get healthcare for their children.”  Even veteran fast-food workers toil only part-time and thus get low wages and no benefits, the posting added.

The posting noted the median national wage for cooks, cashiers and crew at fast-food restaurants is just $8.94 an hour.  The federal minimum wage is $7.25 hourly, and a demand that Congress increase that to $10.l0 hourly by 2016 was among the causes that propelled the fast food workers onto the streets.