What they want is "15 and a union." And they want it NOW!!
On August 29, 2013 fast food workers across America held another strike demanding a $15/hour salary and the right to have a union to fight on their behalf.
The day began at 6 in the morning when the strikers rallied inside the 34th Street McDonald's.
(Over the course of the video you will see organizational/planning meetings, interviews and a synopsis of what has led to the unprecedented wave of Fast Food worker strikes)
(Skip the first 10 minutes to get past an organizational pep talk and then an organizer calling the names of a few workers who will speak later on.)
Following the rally at Wendy's the workers broke off and headed to Union Square for the final rally of the day.
Truth be told this rally in Union Square ended up having a lot of politicking. Among others all 5 mayoral candidates spoke to the crowd in support for the protests' aims. While some may have support for the protests in mind (and other good policies in general), there was hypocrisy displayed as sometimes career records did not align with candidates' delivered speeches.
Nevertheless, the rally was energized... A few workers spoke which was very inspirational, and at one point when Councilman Jumaane Williams addressed the crowd and his microphone went dead; he resorted to using the "people's mic" and stole the show.
Now for a brief discussion of the Fast Food protests up until now and why they have been so unprecedented...
There actually has been an interest in Fast Food organizing for a while now. One very large problem is the high turn-over rate. People don't stay with these jobs for very long. Specifically, they don't stay with them long enough to be able to start organizing each other to action. This is neither a positive nor a negative but merely a vulnerability in the potential development of organization from within the Fast Food industry. Basically, a high turn-over rate requires the organization of new workers shortly after they are hired while quickly losing workers who have been organized as they find other jobs.
To quickly address the stereotype that a lack of organization is due to many of the workers in this industry being uneducated... No. There is actually a percentage of Fast Food workers, bordering on 20%, which is college educated.
Present at this demo today were outside organizations New York Communities for Change, UnitedNY.org, and 32BJ. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has also been involved.
The first strike for "15 and a union" took place earlier in the summer and only in New York City. This was the fourth day of strikes and organizers kept saying this day of striking was nationwide. It should be also be noted how not even a month ago another day of striking was held. What made this day significant were workers from Macy's and Victoria's Secret joining the struggle as well.
What began as a Fast Food protest has also planted the seed for a struggle to raise the minimum wage in general.
As a quick final note it must be recognized that this is not an endorsement of the Fast Food industry or of the quality of food they serve. No. This wave of organizations is about worker's rights. If people have jobs, they deserve living wages. There should be no discussion in the matter at all. Sometimes people enter the fast food industry just because it is their last resort and they need a job just to survive.
Statistically, at least in New York, you actually need to earn $40,000 per year in order to not live in poverty. However, there are certain strategic limits to what can be reasonably demanded. A little more than double the current national minimum wage is a very fair first demand and there is no doubt that those making only $7.25 would be in a far better place financially were their wages increased to $15. The only real hope, after obtaining "15 and a union" would be a continued struggle to get even higher wages.
There is no question these fast food chains can afford to pay their workers higher wages either; and "you can't survive, on 7.25."
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