"We Can't Survive On $7.25": Fast Food Workers Strike Across New York City

Categories: Protest

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Raillan Brooks

All over the city today, protesters were out in a full show of support for fast food workers in search of fairer wages and the right to unionize. For the second time in three months, the nationwide one-day strike brought rallies to fast food restaurants around the city. The Voice made it out to one of today's planned events at Fulton Mall in downtown Brooklyn, where we found a lively cross section of the borough fighting on the side of fast food workers at Wendy's, KFC, MacDonald's, and other big chains.

In August strikers shut down fast food restaurants in 60 cities, making the same demands protesters made today: Raise fast food workers' wages to $15 per hour and permit them to unionize free from intimidation or retaliation from management.

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

In the scrum of banners and vuvuzelas in front of a Wendy's in downtown Brooklyn, organizers, politicians, religious leaders, and fast food workers demanded a fairer wage and exulted the momentum behind the movement. New York is just one of 100 cities seeing walkouts today, and with Bill de Blasio's election on the backs of unions, the tone was hopeful.

Alvin Major, 48, has been working at KFC for two years, at one time serving as a cook at three locations around the city. He has a bachelor's degree in business management, but says he likes the work. "I enjoy cooking," says Major.

He has been a part of the Fast Food Forward Campaign for the last 18 months trying to get fast food companies to increases wages.

"I have four kids," says Major. "One just got accepted to college. Another one is coming up next year."

The jump from $7.25 to $15 per hour would drastically improve Major's ability to pay his rent, provide for his kids, and eat better. "When somebody told me [organizers] wanted to push the wage up for $7.25, I joined up right away."

Major tells the Voice that when his supervisors discovered he had begun organizing for higher wages, they cut him from two locations and banished him to a location far from his home.

"I used to walk to work," says Major. "Now they made me buy a monthly Metro card."

Major's situation is not unique among fast food workers -- the majority are adults trying to support families, says New York Communities for Change director Jonathan Westin.

"It's mothers and fathers trying to break into the middle class," explains Westin. "It's not teenagers flipping burgers."

Despite the lack of any sign that the fast food industry is bowing to pressure, Westin believes that the corporations targeted by today's rallies have the power to raise wages on their own without necessarily needing legislative intervention.

"At some point they have to get wise."



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13 comments
tailrotor76
tailrotor76

Pretty normal for those too lazy to get an education or serve in the military to cry for what they do not deserve.  They are in the same class as the birth to death welfare living in the hood group.  Give me, give me, give me.  Now I get orders wrong, could not count out your change if I had to so I just dump it in your hand while depending on the computer for every answer..  Last of all, I am not going to greet you with a smile and a hello.  Here or ta go" is the thing you will be greeted with,].  I will not say thank you before you go.  I do not appreciate the fact that you coming in and buying from us is why I have a job at all with my very limited if any education.


Absolute and total greed for people too stupid to understand that they are the stupid ones having many babies and cars and expecting minimum, can you say BEGINNING WAGE to pay for everything including a new house and drugs.


We educated workers DO NOT HAVE TO EAT IN YOU PLACES AND WOULD LIKE TO SEE $15.00 HR. FORCE THEM TO CLOSE.  You can always sweep streets but you are too lazy.

tailrotor76
tailrotor76

Get an education you useless clowns.


jasonkone6789
jasonkone6789

I love how people talk about how these people are "struggling".  Most of the "lower class" in the US lives like the middle class in the developing countries they came here from.  No one needs a TV with cable and a cell phone, but I guarantee you 99% of these people spend the $150-250 per month on those items.  When a machine can do your job, you should just be happy you're getting $7.25/hr.  I do agree that some reform is needed in places like Wal-Mart where the employees are actually doing real work but fast food restaurants will be automated completely save for 1-2 managers in 10 or so years, getting $7.25/hr for getting every other order wrong seems like charity to me.  It's not a black and white issue, and I don't think there is a right answer here.  Yes, we'd all like better things, but people in the Western World have their priorities so screwed up with what their $ is spent on.  I grew up in a lower-middle (at best) class urban NYC area neighborhood and it was seriously shocking what alot of my neighbors spent their $ on when they reproduced like rabbits.  I remember one woman got her sleeve tattoo filled in so her kids had to live on apples and hot dogs they bought in bulk that whole week.  Not just that, but these people are almost non-functional by this stage of the game with the education system in these areas.  The whole system is F'ed up and doubling the min wage is just going to be like putting a single bandaid on someone with 20 gunshot wounds.  What a mess, there really are no solutions here except for changing things a the most basic levels.

mrgregddavis
mrgregddavis

Lazy, lazy, lazy. I am so sick of seeing stories about retail and service industry workers wanting more. You take the job knowing full well what you will get paid. You are neither skilled nor deserving of more pay with regard to these positions. Get off you lazy backsides and improve your situations. Otherwise, SHUT UP! The rest of the country should not have to pay for your laziness. 

BetterYerSelf
BetterYerSelf

I like the blame Obama comment. very original, blame someone else, but where's the blame yourself?  Aren't these jobs more suited to high-school kids, those just out of college, or someone in transition?  If you've flipped burgers for 8 years on minimum wage, I'd suggest you go look for something a little better.  I know, I know, the obligatory, "but there's nothing else!!"  You have to help yourself because there is always something else.

bbmw
bbmw

How expensive do fast food workers have to be before it's worth automating their jobs out of existence.  They should really think about what they're doing.

amerikaisfinished201
amerikaisfinished201

"We Can't Survive On $7.25":

You should of thought about that BEFORE you voted for a WALL ST MEAT PUPPET who filled your empty heads with false promises only to ultimately leave you all NAKED & STRANDED,.

Enjoy the "change you can believe in"

Burzghash
Burzghash

@mrgregddavisStupid, stupid, stupid. I am so sick of seeing idiots who think that it's even remotely possible to just 'go out and find something else' when there are currently 4 people looking for work for every 1 job available. These mouthbreathing morons are also entirely ignorant of the fact that the service industry is the only industry growing at this moment, with college graduates unable to find work in their field. These idiots have no concept of the fact that the vast majority of people working these jobs do so because THERE IS NOTHING ELSE AVAILABLE, with the majority of Walmart/McDonalds/etc. employees being adults with families. These idiots don't understand that you're ALREADY paying for these employees;  they need to be subsidized by food stamps and welfare because their employers will not pay them a living wage, despite raking in OBSCENE PROFITS. That's right, you're ALREADY paying for these people, not their employers. 


Furthermore, note that mrgregddavis above doesn't actually have a legitimate argument to make against raising the minimum wage. His entire argument is esssentially, "DURRR, U JUS LAZY!1! U SHULDNT MAKE THAT MUCH!1!!"

Unfortunately for our not-so-bright friend above, that's not an argument.
So let's hear it for idiots like mrgregddavis, who have managed to abscond away to their own little bubbles of idiotic denial, where they can desperately pretend that the poverty situation in this country has absolutely NOTHING to do with the fact that wages have stagnated to the point that people making the minimum wage now are making LESS than they were 60 years ago, when accounting for inflation. Let's hear it for the segment of our population who mindlessly regurgitates such ignorant rhetoric, their narrow and uninformed stances informed by nothing but what their favorite conservative outlet keeps regurgitating into their oh-so-willing baby-bird mouths. Here's to you, idiot.

mrgregddavis
mrgregddavis

@bbmw I'd say automate them out now. Wal Mart already has the right idea with self-checkout. 

mrgregddavis
mrgregddavis

@amerikaisfinished201 Please. Blaming the president for something like this? These people are just lazy. Most of them do not even vote to begin with as they just do not care. Get your head out of your posterior. The president alone can not raise the minimum wage any way. I do not see your republican congress introducing minimum legislation.

mrgregddavis
mrgregddavis

@Burzghash So, by your statement, the minimum is now a problem as the middle class and those fresh out of college, that feel they deserve more pay, now have to take minimum wage jobs? How does that even compute?


In the late 1990's when I was starting out, no one cared that I had to feed my family and pay the bills on minimum wage. No one was rallying around the cause of others like me that were just struggling to get by. Then again, people like you don't care until an issue affects you directly.


The truth is, I care about folks that have trouble making it. However, I don't agree that working at McDonald's is worthy of $15 per hour. That is ludicrous. It is an unskilled profession that is filled primarily by teenagers as a first job. The fact that adults are choosing these jobs is their choice. Even if it is the only option at that time, you agree to the pay. And asking for a raise equal to DOUBLE your current pay is unrealistic.


The bulk of your reply is simply meant to upset me and is pretty childish but I do feel inclined to comment on your statement of me being a conservative. I'm not. I have never voted for a conservative nor do I share the bulk of views that conservatives have. I do however possess a strong work ethic and a grasp of the real world that seems to escape jacksses like yourself. 


My stance is to work hard and create opportunities for yourself instead of holding your hand out and waiting for others to just give to you. That has never been wrong in the history of mankind. That belief built nations including ours and will continue to be the base that makes those that follow it more successful than people like you that feel hardwork and drive is a waste.


Burzghash
Burzghash

@mrgregddavis @bbmw Walmart is already posting sinking profits that has shareholders working. Meanwhile, Costco actually pays their workers a living wage. The result? Their workers are happier, healthier, and have more disposable income in their pockets. Consequently, Costco just posted a 20% profits increase, while their competitor paying poverty wages, Walmart, is sinking.

Guess Walmart, like mrgregddavis above, hasn't figured out that paying unlivable wages and driving the local populace into crippling poverty isn't a viable business plan.

Moreover, you touch on a good subject - what happens when EVERYTHING is automated, hmm? And there's not enough work for everyone to do? 

mrgregddavis
mrgregddavis

@Burzghash @mrgregddavis @bbmw Human beings will continue to facilitate their own demise. Detroit should be lesson 1 for folks. The auto industry collapsed because of worker greed with a union that was far too willing to fight for excessive pay and benefits. 


People like you will see to it that this "society" ends its own necessity by way of their greed and entitlement. Congratulations! Your words are proof you only think about what you want now and not what the consequences may be in the future. 

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