Fast food workers plan strikes in 100 US cities this week

Supporters of strikes set for Thursday seek $15 hourly wage; opponents say increase would lead to fewer jobs

Fast-food workers are seeking a minimum wage of $15 an hour.
Richard Drew/AP

Fast-food workers are planning strikes in 100 cities across the country Thursday in an effort to step up pressure on chains such as McDonald’s and Wendy’s to pay $15 an hour, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Such actions have picked up significant momentum since 200 fast-food workers walked off the job in November 2012 as part of a daylong strike at more than 20 restaurants in New York. 

“There’s been pretty huge growth in one year,” Kendall Fells, one of the main organizers in the movement, told The New York Times. “People understand that a one-day strike is not going to get them there. They understand that this needs to continue to grow.”

This will be the first time strikes are held in some of the cities, including Charleston, S.C.; Providence, R.I.; and Pittsburgh. Fast Food Forward and Fight for 15, as well as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), are among the groups backing the movement. The SEIU is also demanding that restaurants allow workers to unionize without being retaliated against.

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Opponents of the strike, like the National Restaurant Association, say the one-day actions are simply publicity stunts and warn that increasing hourly pay to $15 — when the federal minimum wage is $7.25 — would only lead to fewer jobs and an increase in automation of tasks.

They also say that only a small portion of fast-food jobs pay minimum wage and that those positions are mainly entry-level jobs for workers under the age of 25.

Strike supporters say the average age for a fast-food worker is 29 and that a quarter of them are raising children.

The last set of strikes was on Aug. 29, and workers in more than 50 cities took part. Several community, religious and student groups, including USAction and United Students Against Sweatshops, are expected to join the protests planned for this week.

Al Jazeera

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