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Thursday, December 14, 2017

By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times

Fast-food workers around the world rallied for a higher minimum wage Thursday in what organizers called the largest such protest of its kind.

The movement, which began as a single walkout in New York in 2012 before sprawling across the U.S. last year, will spark gatherings Thursday in 150 U.S. cities as well as 33 countries on six continents, according to planners.

Protesters are calling for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and the right to form unions without retaliation from bosses.

In the U.S., where union ranks are thinning, the fast-food strikes have been called an attempt by labor leaders to boost membership.

On Thursday, the libertarian Cato Institute said that paying fast-food workers $15 an hour could raise labor costs so much that companies will decide to slash headcount and boost menu prices. The right-leaning Employment Policies Institute said that nearly half a million workers nationwide could lose their jobs.

But protest participants say they want to emphasize that the demographic working the drive-throughs isn’t just teenagers looking for spending money. Instead, supporters say, employees are often heads of households, many of whom must resort to public assistance to supplement their salaries.

Some cities, counties and states are proposing or pushing through minimum-wage increases. In September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law raising the minimum wage in California to $10 an hour by 2016. Earlier this month, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray unveiled his plan for a $15 minimum wage in the city.

On Thursday, social media filled with photos of crowds of protesters outside McDonald’s restaurants, Burger Kings and KFC outlets in New York, Ireland, India, Japan and elsewhere.

In Los Angeles, the Rev. Al Sharpton is expected to join demonstrators outside a Crenshaw Boulevard restaurant in the afternoon.

In a regulatory filing earlier this year, McDonald’s noted that “the impact of events such as boycotts or protests, labor strikes and supply chain interruptions” could “adversely affect” the company and its supply network.

In the same document, McDonald’s listed key factors that could affect its operations, plans and results.

On the list, the company placed “the impact on our margins of labor costs that we cannot offset through price increases, and the long-term trend toward higher wages and social expenses in both mature and developing markets, which may intensify with increasing public focus on matters of income inequality.”

In March, McDonald’s workers filed a spate of lawsuits against the company, accusing the burger giant of systematically stealing their wages and committing other labor violations.

steve rhodes via flickr

3 Responses to Fast-Food Workers’ Minimum-Wage Protests Go Global

  1. The Saint-Simonians coined the word “individualism” to describe the free and competitive culture that their centralized control opposed.

  2. There was a picture today in our local paper showing a fast food worker holding a sign that said that his company’s CEO made $9245 per HOUR!!!I
    I don’t know how anyone would not call that obscene when the workers make so little that they qualify for food stamps.
    I would think that increasing the wage of the workers would not even require an increase in the cost of a hamburger if the CEO cut back on his compensation.( I know—fat chance.) Who deserves that much money, especially for selling poor quality food?

  3. If you don’t like your job, vote with your feet and get a better one. But wait, in Obama’s economy, where the worker participation rate is at an all time low, it’s very likely you won’t find another one. What used to be an after-school start-up job is now a middle class position. What to do? Raise the minimum wage. The liberals would have you believe the minimum wage hasn’t kept up with the rate of inflation. But what they don’t realize, or won’t admit, is if you take the first minimum wage and figure in the rate of inflation the minimum wage today would be $4.75/hr.

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