The fast food worker protests continued yesterday with a demonstration outside of Auburn Family Reception Center in Fort Greene, a shelter where some fast food workers live. Gazelle Routhier, from the Coalition for the Homeless, explained the situation: "The mayor is saying that work is the only way to get out of homelessness, but we know, as we're here today, that homeless people are working. They're working hard, they're working long hours, and they're taking care of their kids, but they can't move out of homeless shelters because they are not making enough money to afford housing in New York City."
Pamela Flood, who works at Burger King, lives in the shelter with her three children even though she works over 40 hours, seven days a week. "I work two jobs and go to school at night and that's not even cutting it because both jobs are minimum wage." Behind her, protesters chanted "Can't get by on 7.25!" Flood added, "I'm out here to let everybody know $7.25 is not an option."
Other protesters included eighty-year-old Jose Cirilo, who worked at McDonald's until he was fired for going on strike last week; 23-year-old Saavedra Jantuah, who works at Burger King but lives in a shelter; and Elizabeth Owens, a representative from Vocal New York, who worked for many years at Burger King while staying in Franklin's Women's Shelter. Jantuah states, "We're not asking for much, we're just asking to get by... we have to fight for vacations or time off for family emergencies...Why? Because they need us. They need us, just like we need that raise."
Fast food workers were joined by local politicians, spearheaded by District 35 Council member Letitia James. James stated, "Like most Americans, [fast food workers] believe that if you're willing to work hard and play by the rules you should be able to earn a living wage and join the middle class." Councilmember Brad Lander added emphatically, "It's not right that people who are working hard, doing what they're supposed to do, to be living in homeless shelters, to be living on food stamps, to be barely getting by in our city."
All speakers communicated that they face a long-term fight for higher wages, benefits, and hopefully the formation of a union. But Senator Eric Adams said, "This movement started as a spark—it has become a fire." Though representatives from New York Communities for Change did not share any specific plans for the immediate future, all protesters were dedicated to the cause. Flood closed, "At the end of the day, if I have to fight twenty years, I'm going to fight twenty years so that my kids can see a better tomorrow."