Friday, June 07, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #111 - Part 1

Good news: fast-food workers demand better pay

Last week, fast food workers in Seattle walked off their jobs in a one-day strike. That made Seattle the seventh city where fast food workers have gone on strike in recent months.

Workers from chains including McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Subway, Arby’s, Chipotle, Qdoba, and Jack in the Box participated.

Cities affected previously were New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Detroit, and Washington, DC. Note that in the case of Washington, not all the strikers were fast-food workers.

The Seattle strike comes two weeks after New York’s fast food workers campaign released a report alleging rampant wage theft in the industry. Wage theft can include employees being made to work, without pay, before or after their shift; employees working overtime without being paid time-and-a-half; employees working during their breaks or not receiving breaks at all; and delivery employees not being reimbursed for expenses like gasoline or safety equipment. A huge portion of fast food workers reported having experienced some form of wage theft.

The strike also came just hours after the Congressional Progressive Caucus announced plans for a nationwide tour intended to “highlight the problem of stagnant and low wages for American workers.”

The workers in these strikes are looking for wages to be raised to $15 an hour and the right to form unions without intimidation.

So why are low wages and exploited workers good news? They're not. But the fact that some American workers are finally fed up enough to do something about it - and the fact that in each of these cases they have acted with the support of community groups - is good news. Very good news.


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