Low-income workers at giant chains fighting are back for better wages. Last week Wal-Mart workers across the country walked off the job in protest, and yesterday fast food workers here in New York took to the streets to demand for more money—and a union. Specifically, those marching to bring Fast Food Forward are organizing for a living wage—like, say, making $15 an hour. Because the average fast food worker in New York City makes just $11,000 a year.
Plenty of local politicians are supporting the workers. "This is the moment for New York City to turn the corner after a decade of rising income inequality," mayoral hopeful Bill De Blasio said in a statement on yesterday's actions, which took place all over the city. "We need to stand united as a city in support of fast food workers so they can win the fair pay and economic security every New Yorker deserves."
And City Council member Jumaane Williams went even further at an afternoon rally in Times Square. "You deserve an honest days pay for an honest days work," he told the crowd. "McDonald's says billions and billions served and they aren't even offering sick days or able to pay you for an honest days work? That's some bull... ish!"
Whether it will actually be possible to unionize fast food workers in New York is an open question. As Richard W. Hurd, a labor relations professor at Cornell told the Times, “It’s going to be a lot harder for them to win union recognition. It will be harder to unionize them than carwash workers because the parent companies will fight hard against it, because they worry if you unionize fast-food outlets in New York, that’s going to have a lot of ramifications elsewhere." One way fast food companies could fight back is by hitting consumer support for worker by taking away things—like, say, their popular dollar menus.
And yet workers, at least a few of them who have to rely on food stamps to make ends meet, came out last night to remind the city that "we can't survive for $7.25!" Everything has to start somewhere.