Fast Food Workers Clog the Streets of Lower Manhattan for Fair Wages and Union Rights

Categories: Labor, Strikes

Lining the sidewalks of the block of Nassau Street between Fulton and John, fast food workers, community supporters, and labor organizers protested against unfair wages and lack of job protections. With chants of "hey hey, ho ho, the poverty wage has got to go" and "workers united, will never be defeated," dozens of people stood outside the Wendy's at 85 Nassau Street in the Financial District.

The demands are simple: Raise wages from minimum wage to $15 an hour, and permit fast food workers to form unions without interference or intimidation from employers.

Tyeisha Batts, 27, has worked at the Burger King on Fulton Street for the last four months. She began working to increase pay for workers at the fast food joint just a week after starting there.

Batts has her hours capped at 28 a week, classifying her as part-time so that Burger King does not have to provide benefits. She makes roughly $150 a week.

"Only four of us are out here," she tells Runnin' Scared. "The rest of [the employees] are too scared."

Asked what she expected the outcome of the day's strikes and rally to be, Batts was unequivocal: "I expect us to get what we deserve: fair wages and to form a union without intimidation."

Kendall Fells, Organizing Director for Fast Food Forward, the labor advocacy group representing fast food workers in New York, tells Runnin' Scared that worker intimidation is not a figment of protesters' imaginations. "Employers threaten their employees with reduced hours or firings. You can be fired for accidentally eating a fry."

Fells adds that the companies employing them are enriching themselves on the backs of workers. "These workers are living in complete poverty, but they work for some of the richest corporations in the country, and their sucking it all out of the workers," says Fells.

"Some of [the workers] live in homeless shelters, some couch surf, but McDonald's' CEO tripled his salary last year."

The workers' campaign has widespread support among this year's field of candidates. Mayoral candidates John Liu, Bill de Blasio, and Christine Quinn have all come out in support of the movement, as has Comptroller candidate Scott Stringer.

New York is only one among dozens of cities seeing these protests today, which were planned to coincide with the anniversary of the March on Washington. At last count, actions were taking place in 60 cities across the country, including Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Chicago.

Send your story tips to the author, Raillan Brooks.

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whateveryousay topcommenter

People need to get an education, learn a trade, choose a profession or become an entrepreneur.  

Stop demanding money from others and develop a skill that will pay you more in the workplace.  Fast food jobs are meant for students, not adults trying to support a family.  

Besides, the bully that took my lunch money in school now takes my order for lunch.  I wouldn't want to see him make one more dime.


New Orleans to follow NYC in unionizing.


$15.00 an hour and a union. As if I would ever pay $30.00 for a happy meal. Every fast food joint in duhmerica would be shut down within a year and then every last employee would be unemployed. The 28 hours is because of obamacare ya dumb monkey. Too stupid to even comprehend just how stupid you are. Go back to skool LaConKiesha and gets a goodly edumication !


If you want a higher salary then stay in school beyond the 3rd grade. If you want more jobs then STOP voting for democrats. If you want more opportunity then stop joining unions. The people of new york are too stupid to raise themselves. You should all be in a special education home.


@dxsmopuim not sure which black person associated with this article (Tyeisha Batts, Kendall Fells, Obama, me) you were calling a dumb monkey, but I'll be sure to use it to my social media advantage. Thanks, bub!


@r_ebrooks @dxsmopuim I didn't see a single word about race in my comments - it is always the racist that brings race into any discussion - ya phukkin racist POS !

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