Super-rare fast-food worker strike hits NYC
Would you like to fry up pink slime all day, and still be on food stamps? Well, you’re not alone. (Shocking, right?)
New York City food service workers at some of the nation’s biggest, baddest chains walked off the job this morning for a super-rare one-day strike against low wages.
Workers are organizing around the Fast Food Forward campaign at dozens of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Domino’s, and Papa John’s locations city-wide, in an industry that has traditionally been devoid of if not outright hostile to union power. As Josh Eidelson at Salon reports, one 79-year-old McDonald’s worker has already been suspended this week for signing up coworkers to the campaign’s petition. From Salon:
New York Communities for Change organizing director Jonathan Westin told Salon the current effort is “the biggest organizing campaign that’s happened in the fast food industry.” A team of 40 NYCC organizers have been meeting with workers for months, spearheading efforts to form a new union, the Fast Food Workers Committee. NYCC organizers and fast food workers have been signing up employees on petitions demanding both the chance to organize a union without retaliation and a hefty raise, from near-minimum wages to $15 an hour.
Striking workers detailed strict working conditions and verbal abuse while on the job. Their current wages — $8.90/hour median in New York City, where the $7.25/hour federal minimum reigns supreme — don’t reflect the economic realities of the booming U.S. fast-food industry. Apparently recession America has a taste for Happy Meals.
Fast food weathered the recession, and the biggest names are seeing big profits. Yum! Brands, which runs Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC, saw profits up 45 percent over the last four fiscal years, and McDonald’s saw them up 130 percent. (After Walmart, Yum! Brands and McDonald’s are the second and third-largest low-wage employers in the nation.)
Raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.80 per hour would likely have a tiny effect on how much consumers pay for food, but it could cut deep into those corporate profits.
Fast-food workers are not just cooking and serving the pink slime to you — they have essentially become it, squeezed for profit through Yum! and McDonald’s capital meat grinders.