On May 15th 2014, thousands of workers in the fast food industry went on strike demanding their wages be raised to the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. Across 33 countries within 230 cities, worker in McDonald’s, Burger King, and 12 other well-known fast food restaurants, fast food workers joined a global protest demanding these large fast food chains increases their wages.
Throughout Thursday, and still active today, the protest were given a joining hashtag on which allowed both demonstrators and their supporters to comment on the protest. By incorporating the #FastFoodGlobal to either their Twitter, Facebook, or the various other social media vehicles, demonstrators and supporters were allowed to express their thoughts, experiences, and support of the demonstration.
In El Diario, Zaira Cortés documented how among the protestors Hispanic workers were the leading protestors in the demonstration. In New York City, an estimated 500 people had marched from 34th Street in Herald Square to 40th & 7th Avenue in Manhattan. The march of 500 protestors chanting slogans demanding for a fair wage was led by an estimated 40 Hispanic workers.
“I have worked at Papa John’s for three years without a single raise,” said Daniel Bermúdez, one of the marchers, “The cost of living is burying us alive while these companies get richer with our work.”
Back in November 2012, the campaign for a higher increase in the minimum originally began in New York. At the start of this campaign, an estimated 200 fast food workers not only demanded a raise increase to their wages but also wanted the right to form unions. Unions for fast food chain giants are highly controversial and so workers demanded that they permitted to form without the fear of retaliation from their employers.
Today, the average salary a worker in a fast food restaurant is expected to make is a mere $9 per hour which is an estimated $18,500 per year. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty line for a family of for is an estimated $23,000 a year. In comparison to the earnings a fast worker makes, the fast food worker makes an estimated $4,500 less than a family at the cusp of poverty.
In an effort to aide fast food workers by enforcing cities to raise minimum wages higher than the federal rate, the RaiseUpNY bill—also known as proposal S6516/A9036—is requesting that the federal rate of $8 per hour in New York to be increased to livable earning for fast food chain employees.
The bill is currently being supported by both New York State Assemblyman Karim Camara, president of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, and state Senator for Yonkers Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
“I want to thank the workers for their brave actions,” said Cousins, applauding the brave marchers who are risking their employment in order to better their lives and the lives of other and future fast food workers. “The current minimum wage paid to our men and women is shamefully low.”
“My job isn’t only to deliver pizzas. I am supposed to do many other tasks that they aren’t paying me for,” said Próspero Sánchez, a Domino’s Pizza worker, who has been working in his Washington Heights chain for over 10 years. “We are not afraid; it’s hundreds of us fighting for justice.”
The march and the strike did not turn violent nor was there any reported incident. The march consisting of fast food workers was organized by the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) which is known as a global federation consisting of trade unions with over 12 million workers enlisted as members.
According to some opponents against the planned increase of wages they believe that the increase will cost consumers much more for their meal. However, some studies have shown that well the cost may go up for meals they will not go up by much.
With the cost of living steadily becoming far too much where survival means to hold more than one job and devote your entire waking moment to work, increasing wages of fast food workers doesn’t just allow them to have a more balanced living but it enables them to take care of their families and live off their earnings, a situation which everyone should be entitled to.