fightfor15

Largest-Ever Strike Hits Fast Food Industry In 230 Cities

On Wednesday, fast food workers walked off the job in 230 cities, staging the largest-ever strike in their movement aimed at a $15 minimum wage and the right to form a union.

The movement began with a single strike in New York City at the end of 2012 but has grown increasingly larger as the Fight for 15 movement has staged nine other days of coordinated strikes since then. Wednesday’s actions took place in cities on both coasts, the south, and the midwest, and it even went global, with strikes in Italy and New Zealand.

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I’m making $21 an hour at McDonald’s. Why aren’t you?

“You see, I work for McDonald’s in Denmark, where an agreement between our union and the company guarantees that workers older than 18 are paid at least $21 an hour. Employees younger than 18 make at least $15 — meaning teenagers working at McDonald’s in Denmark make more than two times what many adults in America earn working at the Golden Arches.

To anyone who says that fast-food jobs can’t be good jobs, I would answer that mine isn’t bad. In fact, parts of it are just fine. Under our union’s agreement with McDonald’s, for example, I receive paid sick leave that workers are still fighting for in many parts of the world. We also get overtime pay, guaranteed hours and at least two days off a week, unlike workers in most countries. At least 10 percent of the staff in any given restaurant must work at least 30 hours a week.”

“McDonald’s didn’t give us our union. We had to fight for it. It was a five-year struggle that involved many demonstrations like the ones that will stretch across the globe on Thursday.”

Minimum wage laws suppress competition and transfer monopoly and monopsony power to large corporations. These laws subsidize large corporations by insulating them from competition from smaller competitors and start-ups that are less able bear the increased costs of labor. If we want to increase the poor’s standard of living we must start fighting for free markets and deregulation instead of unemployment and corporate welfare.

 

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Americans often risk arrests to protest for a range of causes – from climate change to better wages. The arrests, however, might cost them.

“Look at Ferguson. Look at all of the arrests that have happened. All of these individuals who might have a record that they might not even realize that in six months, or several years down the road, will follow them and could cause them to lose a job.”

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Photo: Jake May/AP

The truth is a job doesn’t necessarily mean an adequate income. There are some ten million jobs that now pay less than the minimum wage, and if you’re a woman, you’ve got the best chance of getting one. Why would a 45-year-old woman work all day in a laundry ironing shirts at 90-some cents an hour? Because she knows there’s some place lower she could be. She could be on welfare. Society needs women on welfare as “examples” to let every woman, factory workers and housewife workers alike, know what will happen if she lets up, if she’s laid off, if she tries to go it alone without a man. So these ladies stay on their feet or on their knees all their lives instead of asking why they’re only getting 90-some cents an hour, instead of daring to fight and complain.
—  Johnnie Tillmon, explaining the politics of welfare-shaming and low-wage work