In a way, this is not surprise: poverty is poverty, whether you work in a McDonald's in Paris or one in New York City. But, what is nice to see is some labor coordination across borders--something that usually is talked about a lot but rarely done effectively.
This is happening:
In addition to one-day strikes in 150 cities across the country, the movement’s leaders hope to take their cause global. They say support protests will take place in 80 cities in more than 30 countries, from Dublin to Venice to Casablanca to Seoul to Panama City.It's coordinated:
Over the last decade as American labor unions have declined in membership and power, they have increasingly turned to unions in Europe and Asia to help pressure companies overseas to stop battling organizing drives at their United States units. And now the fast food movement, underwritten by the Service Employees International Union, is embracing a similar strategy as it struggles to gain influence with the fast food giants.
To help propel the effort, a labor federation with 12 million workers in 126 countries — the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations — met in New York last week. It brought together union officials from more than two dozen countries, many of them with thriving, powerful labor organizations, to throw their weight behind Thursday’s protests.Historically, the international labor federations have been pretty ineffective--mostly conventions and meetings that produce a lot of resolutions about working together but not enough concrete action. Some of that is understandable: resources are stretched, cultures of bargaining and organizing are different and, yes, language differences can be a hindrance.
Massimo Frattini, international coordinator of the federation’s restaurant division, said restaurant workers in Europe, Asia and Latin America were eager to join in — both to help their own cause and that of their United States allies.
“Fast food workers in many other parts of the world face the same corporate policies — low pay, no guaranteed hours and no benefits,” said Mary Kay Henry, the president of the Service Employees International Union.
So, let's hope this is a beginning.
Related, here's a heart-felt plea from an a NYC McDonald's worker explaining why she is striking today:
Here’s the reality of my life: I’ve worked at McDonald’s for the last 7 years without a raise. I still only make the state’s $8-an-hour minimum wage, and I struggle to support my family on less than $10,000 a year.
My day-to-day life is made up of impossible choices. I hate that I’m behind on my bills every month, but the reality is that I can pay the landlord or the babysitter, not both. I honestly feel like a hamster on a wheel. I’m scrambling just to keep a roof over my family’s head.
I work all the hours I can get. But it’s never enough.