Fast food workers around the world are striking and rallying with supporters in a global expansion of the waves of one-day strikes held throughout the United States over the past year and a half. The strikers are claiming credit for temporarily closing several fast food restaurants or forcing managers to take over operations.
Steven Greenhouse reports, of the expansion to other countries:
“It’s a global economy, so they’re saying, ‘Why not go overseas to make it into a global fight?’ ” said Lowell Turner, a professor of international labor relations at Cornell University. “They’re trying to create a global protest movement.”In the U.S., workers emphasize not just the low wages they are paid even after years of experience, but questions of justice:
The movement’s organizers say there will be protests in 30 cities in Japan, 20 in Britain, five in Brazil and three in India. The effort’s strategists point to some fast-growing overseas markets as vulnerable targets for corporations like McDonald’s that have begun relying more heavily on foreign revenue now that domestic fast food sales have languished.
Jamie Branch, a McDonald’s employee in Rockford, Illinois, said she’s going on strike to demand the company better value her and her coworkers. “The reason I’m going on strike is because I feel like they are underpaying their workers,” she said, “because we do matter.” She trains coworkers at the chain and knows how much is expected of them. “We do the work of two to three people in any given day,” she said. Yet the workers struggle to get by. “That corporation is making billions of dollars in the same hour they’re paying me eight measly dollars,” she said. “It’s time for me to start getting acknowledged and treated as if I matter.”Though the strikes are spreading, the odds are still not in the workers' favor. They're up against huge, profitable companies that have built a business model around low-wage labor, and have lobbyists and lawyers to protect that model. But nothing will change without organizing, and worker activism does have to be credited for some of the momentum behind increasing the minimum wage, as we've seen recently in several states and in Seattle, where it's headed to the $15 an hour the fast food workers have been calling for in their strikes.
Go below the fold for some tweets from fast food actions around the world.