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Friday, October 28, 2016

Fast-Food Workers Strike For Higher Wages In New York City

Fast-Food Workers Strike For Higher Wages In New York City

More than 100 fast-food workers, members of clergy, organizers, and elected officials packed a busy Brooklyn street in protest on Thursday. The crowd was energized, but not rowdy. And their message was clear: Fast-food workers deserve an hourly pay rate of $15.00. A living wage.

The protest and strike in Brooklyn was one of over a hundred such events planned in cities throughout the United States. Fast-food chains such as Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s were targets of strikes, and in Brooklyn, workers vented their frustration at a Wendy’s restaurant in a busy shopping district.

As in other cities, the protest was organized by a hodgepodge of progressive community groups. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) provided technical support and helped train organizers and volunteers. “Fast-Food Forward,” a community group leading the campaign to raise New York fast-food workers’ pay rate to $15 per hour and New York Communities For Change (NYCC) organized protesters and communicated with police. And New York City Council members, rabbis, and fast-food workers delivered speeches to the crowd throughout the day.

“It’s a broad coalition of groups with a vested interest in seeing fast-food workers win,” Kendall Fells, Organizing Director of Fast-Food Forward, told The National Memo.

Support for organized labor among the strikers and protesters was evident.

“Of course,” fast-food worker Naquasia LeGraed said when asked if she supports the idea of a union for her colleagues in the industry. “We need to be protected. Right now my boss could fire me just for eating a fry on the line. We need people who work for the people and open our eyes to what corporations are getting off our backs.”

Fast Food Strike II

The protesters say they are not willing to budge on their request for a $15-per-hour pay rate, so President Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour is not particularly popular with this crowd.

“It’s not enough,” New York City councilmember Matheui Eugene told The National Memo. “Life is so expensive these days. People need fair wages for assisting their families.” He added that a $15-an-hour wage “will put power in strengthening New York and strengthening the United States.”

LeGraed said about Obama’s proposal, “It’s a step in the right direction. It makes me think he’s hearing us, but not hearing us all the way. Nine dollars an hour is not enough.”

Since proposing a $9-per-hour rate in his most recent State of the Union address, the president has signaled his support for a Democratic bill that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour (although he has shown no indication that he would endorse raising the minimum hourly rate to $15).

One of the most popular critiques of the $15-per-hour wage for fast-food workers is that it might raise the prices of the food itself. If workers earn $15 an hour at McDonald’s, a $3 hamburger could go up to $3.60.

Carroll Hart-Alexander, a political liaison for New York Communities For Change, offered a pointed rebuke to that line of thought: “If they have to add 10 cents to each Happy Meal, they can pay for it,” she said.

Photos by Ben Feuerherd

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • Dominick Vila

    The fear of those who beg for no retaliation by their employers for having the audacity of making a personal choice in a country that claims to be a bastion of freedom and democracy could not be more poignant and revealing. What a shame!
    I believe that jumping from $7.25 to $15 an hour is too big a jump, but I support increasing the minimum wage to at least $9 and ensuring subsequent pay raises, commensurate with the skill level and the demands of the work performed, are in place to ensure every American can put food on the table and has a roof over their heads.

    • Bill Thompson

      Dominick the minimum wage is relative to where you live in the Northeast a minimum-wage of 13 $14 an hour will not help much. For example a mailman in the north east is slightly above poverty level as opposed to the mailman and some rural area is living pretty well.

      • Dominick Vila

        You are right, and that should be taken into consideration when a minimum wage is established. That reminds me of the per diem the government used to pay me whenever I went on assignment overseas or to other parts of the country. That per diem varied dependent on the cost of living in the places I went to. The same should be true for the minimum wage.

    • Bryan Blake

      A poverty wage is determined by the area in which one lives. $12.00 an hour may be a living wage in one area but $15.00 an hour is probably the bare minimum to earn as a living wage in New York City. We are now seeing cities and states setting their own minimum wages. That is a trend that must gather steam. Since the Right has successfully waged war on unions for the past 30+ years they have been marginalized labor once again. Unfortunately, the “free-market capitalist class” does not believe that workers have any rights nor a stake in their economy. The struggle between labor and capital in this country has been long and very often violent and fatal. Both sides have unclean hands – but capital has buckets of blood on its hands. Hopefully we will not return to those days as our current economy accelerates in its disintegration. Make no mistake! If the rich and ultra-rich are faced with greatly diminishing profits and drastically decreasing production they too will revert to the violent anti-labor practices of the most infamous capitalists in our history.

  • Budjob

    The minimum wage should have been $12.00 an hour fifteen years ago.This country is rushing non stop to third world nation status.At the risk of sounding too extreme,WE NEED A NATIONAL STRIKE!! If the Repuiblican bastards can shut down the government,the people in this country would have a profound effect with such an effort!The powers that be wouldn’t get away with this shit in France,Germany,Canada,the UK,or any other country that support each other!

    • tax payer

      I know those places don’t pay a good wage, but you have to realize those jobs should be mostly for people that have ( no spouse or children ) and live with their parents, so they can afford to buy the vehicle of their Dreams. Once they get married they have to look for something better and I know it’s not an easy task in this country because they may end up having to compete against the illegals once Congress decides against the people of this country.

      • WhutHeSaid

        …said the crusty old anchor-baby who has ungratefully snorted public benefits his entire life, yet rages over hungry babies getting food to eat.

      • Budjob

        And where DON”T you work wrinkle dick?

        • tax payer

          You have just announced to everyone in this Forum you like them hard as a rock. B-job ( your name ) may mean something now to us.

  • paulyz

    Maybe if the cost of living in the US wasn’t a struggle because of excessive government regulations, taxes, etc. Plus the drain on Americans from Millions of Illegals, that are a large cause of high health care & education costs, unemployment & low wages, and a cheap source of labor. These policies make it hard for everyone, & with the further costs of the ACA, it will be even harder. Until we address these causes, we would just have to have a never-ending increase in wages & inflation, as well as the drain on our entire economy.

  • tax payer

    Go to any Major store to buy your food and you’ll know which people get their food free. You pay maybe $80 total for your food and they get about $300 of free food, and act like they are better than you and you know their food is not being paid by them. My wife tells me everytime we go to the store the food is more expensive, but not to these people. A store in our city ( San Antonio ) makes millions in profits, but to me 80% of that is from SNAP since all I see there are poor people dressed as, if they are rich, but one thing we don’t have in common is we pay for our food. Imagine this country not helping these people and it would be another Mexico ( a country that believes ) you must feed what you bring into this World.

    • Daniel Jones

      Your wife’s wrong and you’re a bigot that wants people to starve.

      Go away, and have a nice day.

      • tax payer

        The parents want their children to starve when they bring them to their poverty life. You know food is going up at a fast pace, so when you have to pay cash you feel the effect, but these people don’t care since you pay for your food and their food unless you are part of that group too. Oh yes, you too have a nice day and I hope there’s no friction between us.

        • Bryan Blake

          “The parents want their children to starve when they bring them to their poverty life.” That is pure bully poo! Just because a person is poor does not mean that they want to bring children into a life of poverty! If NOT BRINGING children into this world because of poverty were prohibitive to the increasing of humankind then we would have GONE EXTINCT tens of thousands of years ago.

          Since you blame the poor for their supposed overpopulation you are probably also against contraception and abortion. Make the poor women have their children according to the pro-lifers’ creed. But do not in any way help with their care after they are born!

          • tax payer

            Take those babies away from them and put them with people that will be there for these babies until they go on their way. Shut off the factory producing these babies would be the solution too. I am 100% for abortion, if the woman wants one, so she can have a good life being childless.

    • WhutHeSaid

      …whined the lying bigot while snorting Medicare Viagra supplied by our taxes.

    • tdm3624

      “Go to any Major store to buy your food and you’ll know which people get their food free.”

      Not where I live. Many people lost their jobs during the recession but still wear the clothes they had when they weren’t on public assistance. They don’t look anything like the people you describe.

      And of course stores make profits off of people buying food from public assistance programs. A dollar is a dollar. The business doesn’t care where it comes from. That’s why I get annoyed with large companies paying their workers wages too low to survive off of and those workers have to turn to public assistance to supplement their income which gets spent, sometimes, at the very stores they work at.

  • leadvillexp

    While I can empathise with these workers I have to look further. We can raise the minimum wage by law, but as you well know business is in business to make a profit. Business will not eat the cost of the raise. It will be passed on through product cost increase. If we force McDonalds to pay $15.00 an hour what will a hamburger cost? The people with the low wage that depend on eating there will no longer be able to afford it, if McDonalds stays in business. You will also price out all the school children that eat there. Soon $15.00 an hour will be the new poverty level. This is inflation. The wealthy will just raise the price or close the business. That way the will not loose money and get richer. The government and big business are in bed together. The elimination of the middle class is the goal.

  • Barbara Morgan

    Any raise in the minimum wage should be based on the cost of living for all areas of the Country.From what I know about the cost of living in New York especially the city,$15 dollars a hour may not help people making minimum wage because everything is high there especially housing and food, When talking about raising the minimum wage it needs to be done like some kind of a zone thing, the wage is raised based on the cost of living in each zone and won’t be the same for the ‘whole Country but will be higher than what it is now. Also since places like McDonald’s keep saying that if they paid their workers more and gave them benefits they would have to charge more make them prove it. If they can pay outrageous salaries, give outrageous benefits for their CEO’s and upper management , and buy jets for them to fly around in, they don’t have to raise prices in the Golden Arches places just cut salaries and benefits of the CEO and upper management people and stop buying jets,

  • Thomas Aquinas

    Just as competition is the essence of natural selection, the competition found within free markets brings out the best in people while motivating them to create new things, make better things, and be more efficient.