Fast-food strikes set for cities nationwide
Fast-food customers in search of burgers and fries today might run into striking workers instead.
Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities across the country, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Wendy’s to pay workers higher wages.
It’s expected be the largest nationwide strike by fast-food workers, according to organizers. The biggest effort so far was over the summer when about 2,200 of the nation’s millions of fast-food workers staged a one-day strike in seven cities.
Today’s planned walkouts follow a series of strikes that began last November in New York City, then spread to cities including Chicago, Detroit and Seattle. Workers say they want $15 an hour, which would be about $31,000 a year for full-time employees. That’s more than double the federal minimum wage, which many fast-food workers make, of $7.25 an hour, or $15,000 a year.
The move comes amid calls from the White House, some members of Congress and economists to hike the federal minimum wage, which was last raised in 2009. But most proposals seek a far more modest increase than the ones workers are asking for, with President Obama wanting to boost it to $9 an hour.
The push has brought considerable media attention to a staple of the fast-food industry – the so-called “McJobs” that are known for their low pay and limited prospects. But the workers taking part in the strikes still represent a tiny fraction of the broader industry. And it’s not clear whether the strikes today will shut down any restaurants because organizers made their plans public earlier in a call for workers around the country to participate, which gave managers time to adjust their staffing levels.
As it stands, fast-food workers say they can’t live on what they’re paid.
The National Restaurant Association said the low wages reflect the fact that most fast-food workers tend to be younger and have little work experience. Scott DeFife, a spokesman for the group, said that doubling wages would hurt job creation, noting that fast-food chains are already facing higher costs for ingredients, as well as new regulations that will require them to pay more in health care costs.