Tags: fast-food | protests | pay | jobs

Fast-Food Workers Stage Protests Regarding Pay and Job Rights

Thursday, 15 May 2014 11:55 AM

Fast-food workers seeking higher pay planned protests today in more than 30 countries at chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s.

Workers were expected to strike in 150 U.S. cities including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles as well as Germany, Japan and the U.K. as part of a campaign seeking wages of $15 an hour and the right to unionize, according to a news release from BerlinRosen Public Affairs in New York City.

The protests occur as states including Connecticut are raising their state minimum wage and President Barack Obama has called for increasing the $7.25 federal rate amid a debate about the impact on hiring.

“It only makes sense to fight these companies on a global level to put pressure on them,” Kendall Fells, organizing director at Fast Food Forward, the New York chapter of the worker-advocacy group, told Bloomberg BNA on May 7.

Burger King Worldwide Inc. said in a statement that it is aware of the protests and “respects the rights of all workers.”

Bob Bertini, a Wendy’s Co. spokesman, said the company is “proud to give thousands of people, who come to us for a starting job, the opportunity to learn and develop important skills so that they can grow with us or move on to something else.”

Becca Hary, a spokeswoman for McDonald’s Corp., the world’s largest restaurant chain, didn’t immediately respond to a voice-mail message seeking comment on the strike.

‘Big Labor’

Increasing labor costs for restaurants “is not the comprehensive solution to income inequality” and will “only hurt business owners’ ability to create entry-level jobs,” the National Restaurant Association said in a statement.

“These union-backed protests are nothing more than big labor’s attempt to push their own agenda while attacking an industry that provides opportunity to millions of Americans,” the association said.

The protests are being backed by the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 2 million members.

Fast-food workers in America make about $9 an hour, or $18,880 a year, if they work full time, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Corporations should pay their employees fair wages and Congress should act so no one gets left behind,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement about the strikes. “Only then will we have an economy that works for all working people.”

McMuffins Aplenty

Nationally, minimum-wage increases have drawn opposition from businesses groups, which argue that it makes them more reluctant to hire by pushing up costs. The hiring impact of raising the minimum wage remains a matter of debate. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the effect on employment from a national increase to $10.10 would be anywhere from a “very slight reduction” to as many as 1 million lost jobs.

Not every restaurant saw demonstrations. At Washington’s Union Station, a few blocks from the Congress that has blocked Obama’s push for a higher minimum wage, dozens of customers lined up at McDonald’s for $1 Sausage McMuffins or $3 value meals.

Jackson Bolufemi, 24, has worked there for three years and now earns $11 an hour as a shift manager and was unaware of the strikes in other towns. He said most employees consider the pay to be too low to make ends meet, even for managers like him.

“For managers with kids, it’s not enough,” he said.

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Fast-food workers seeking higher pay planned protests today in more than 30 countries at chains such as McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's.
fast-food, protests, pay, jobs
Thursday, 15 May 2014 11:55 AM
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