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‘Low pay is not OK’

Fast-food strike at Taco Bell COURTESY PHOTO

Fast-food strike at Taco Bell

Fast food workers call for nationwide strike

Workers in the fast-food and retail industries  from eight cities have called on low-wage workers around the country to join them in a national day of strikes Aug. 29. The workers, who in recent months have been standing up for higher wages and going on strike for a better future for their families and communities, are fighting for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation or unfair labor practices.

“If you work in a fast food or retail store anywhere in the country, we urge you to join our growing movement,” said Terrance Wise, a 34-year old father of three who earns $9.30 an hour after eight years at Burger King and $7.47 an hour at Pizza Hut in Kansas City. “The more of us who go on strike that day, the louder our message will be that it is not right for companies making billions in profits to pay their workers pennies.”

The pre-Labor Day strike is expected to hit major national fast-food companies like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s. Retail workers at stores like Macy’s, Sears and Dollar Tree are expected to join the strikes in some cities.

“The fast-food restaurant industry is terrified that these (strikes) will spread to other cities,” Wall Street Journal editorial board member Steve Moore said in an interview last week on WSJ Live. But the industry has done nothing to address the concerns of its workers, who earn minimum wage or just above it and feel they have little to lose by coming together to demand higher pay.

“It’s wrong for big corporations to make billions of dollars in profits and pay millions of dollars to their CEOs, while us workers barely scrape by on minimum wage,” said Latrice Arnold, a 27-year-old mother of two who earns Michigan’s minimum wage of $7.40 an hour at a Detroit Wendy’s where she has worked for two years. “It’s time for these big fast-food and retail companies to pay up. They can afford to pay us more and have a responsibility to ensure the workers who keep their businesses booming don’t live in poverty.”

“We are united in our belief that every job should pay workers enough to meet basic needs such as food and housing,” said Nancy Salgado, a single mother of two who has worked at McDonald’s in Chicago for 10 years and makes Illinois’ minimum wage of $8.25 an hour. “Our families, communities and economy all depend on workers earning a living wage.”

The strike will take place the day after the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, which sought to “give all Americans a decent standard of living” and called for a minimum wage of $2 per hour. Adjusted for inflation, that would equal $15.26 an hour today.

Fast food is a $200 billion a year industry and retail is a $4.7 trillion industry, yet many service workers across the country earn minimum wage or just above it and are forced to rely on public assistance programs to provide for their families and get health care for their children. Nationally, the median wage for cooks, cashiers and crew at fast-food restaurants is just $8.94 an hour.

Companies like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s have said their low-wage jobs are stepping stones to better ones, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. A report released last month by the National Employment Law Project reveals managerial positions make up just 2.2 percent of all jobs in the industry, proving fast-food jobs are not the “launching pad” officials would like Americans to believe.

Likewise, the industry’s claim that its workers are teenagers is simply not true. The median age in the fast-food industry is older than 28, and more than one-quarter of fast-food workers are raising at least one child.

The upcoming strikes will be the latest in an escalating series of walkouts by low-wage workers across the country. Federally-contracted workers in Washington have walked off their jobs, a growing number of Walmart workers have gone on strike and carwash workers have also walked out.

Submitted by the workers of  Fast Food Forward, Fight for 15, STL Can’t Survive on $7.35, D-15, Raise up Milwaukee, Strike Poverty-Raise Seattle, Stand Up KC and Flint-15.

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