Fast Food Strikes Coming to a City Near You

Written by Bryce Covert

Fast food workers will stage a one-day strike against their employers in 100 cities on Thursday, activists told the New York Times’s Steven Greenhouse. Strikes will take place for the first time in some cities, such as Charleston, S.C.; Providence, R.I.; and Pittsburgh, Pa.

They’ll also stage protests in an additional 100 cities, activists say.

The strikes will be the latest after fast food workers walked out in August in the largest action ever, which took place in more than 50 different cities. The strikes began a year ago this November with 200 workers staging a one-day strike at more than 20 restaurants in New York City, “the first such walkout in the history of the nation’s fast-food industry,” Greenhouse writes. Since then they have spread dramatically, beginning in cities in the northeast and then spreading to the midwest and south.

Striking workers have been demanding a raise to $15 an hour and the right to form a union. While industry groups claim that only a small portion of their jobs pay the federal minimum wage of $7.25 and those are mostly entry-level jobs, median wages are only around $8.85. Many argue these low-wage jobs are meant just for teenagers trying to make a little extra money, but studies have shown that people ages 25 to 54 hold the largest share of the country’s fast food jobs, and nearly 70 percent earn between $7.26 (just above the minimum wage) and $10.09. More than a quarter are supporting a child. And these poorly paid jobs are rarely a starting point to move up the corporate ladder: less than 9 percent of the industry’s employees become supervisors and just 2.2 percent hold managerial jobs.

These jobs pay so little, in fact, that fast food workers consume $243 billion in public benefits each year, such as food stamps and Medicaid, just to get by. They are also far more likely to be enrolled in these programs than the general workforce. McDonald’s itself has recognized how little its workers make by creating a budget template that suggests getting a second job and going without heat and advising its workers to sell Christmas presents for cash.

Yet fast food jobs represent a growing part of the economy. About half the jobs created during the recovery from the recession have been low pay, and they have increasingly replaced mid-wage jobs that existed before the crash. The growth in these jobs and the increasingly loud call from workers for a raise have been factors in the momentum behind a minimum wage raise at the federal level, where it has stagnated for four years and would be more than $10 an hour if it had grown with inflation or over $22 an hour if it had kept up with income growth at the very top. President Obama has backed a raise to $10 an hour and voters also support it. They increased wages on election day this year, including a raise to $15 an hour in a town in Washington state.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

Photo Credit: Flickr


Pamela W.
Pamela W.2 years ago

Sarah H ...... Acceptance of a totally unjust situation is NOT the answer - action to improve things is the only way to go !! If everybody tried to improve things, these situations would no longer exist ...... if it were up to people with your philosophy, we'd all still be living in caves !!!

Robert H.
Robert Hamm2 years ago

As usual Sarah comes in with only 1/3 of the facts and even less solutions

Linda McKellar
Past Member 2 years ago

Sounds great Sarah but the jobs aren't there.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

Fast food is supposed to be a stepping stone, not a career. I know times are hard but if you don't like the pay, get another job. If you work fast food you know the pay is low.

Lynn C.
Lynn C.2 years ago


Linda McKellar
Past Member 2 years ago

Yes Dale. I was going to visit a friend dying from a brain tumour and while the attendant was pumping gas he asked where I was going on a lovely day. I told him and he asked her symptoms. He correctly diagnosed her exact type of cancer. He was a paediatric oncologist from Iraq and he was pumping gas. Another stupid, uneducated lazy guy. Good night Pamela, Dale and Mary. Sleep tight with all those free drugs you get on welfare after a free meal from food stamps LOL!

Dale O.

Sounds fair to me, Alex H. If only the CEO's thought the way that you do! Add universal health care to the mix and things would run a lot more smoothly. So true, Alberto G, so very true! Sadly, that is how a lot of the corporate CEO's really think.

It is hardly surprising that Wanda B posted a pro-Walmart YouTube video saying that protesting Walmart is dumb. Yes, Walmart has stuff from China and other places do as well, but Walmart still is a place to protest over low wages and endless other policies. Saying that unions are greedy while the CEO's of Walmart worship Greedocracy is highly amusing. Liberals are subjecting people into slavery? Where do you find this right wing tripe, Wanda B? In the NRA dumpster? Great comedy...'Walmart cares' and Liberals are 'demonizing Walmart employees'. Rofl! Another Alice in Wonderland perspective, the distorted mirror of the video is classic corporate CEO Theatre of the Absurd! Pure Jabbarwocky! Congratulations on another 'winner.'

Dale O.

Very true Pamela, there are a variety of circumstances. For instance, what if a woman has left an abusive husband and grabs the first job that she can get in a pinch? Sometimes people will get a low paying job even if they have more qualifications while waiting to get other employment. Students often get such jobs to help pay the rent while they are in full time studies and work at almost anything while going to school.

Snowfall for tonight and tomorrow. For fun, I am watching some Memories of the 1998 Ice Storm when I went without power for 13 days in January. The hydro electric pylons crumpled to the ground and the trees split apart every two seconds where I was for two days which sounded like machine gun fire, sounding like a war zone.

Dale O.

You have that correct, Ron B. The corporate élites of the Greedocracy running rampant as per usual? You are certainly right about the "dead last" part. paying employees a decent wage.

Then, there's nothing like look down the snoot upon others attitudes like that of Notto O, who presumes that anyone working in minimum wage jobs has no education. Then, there are also people who don't have a lot of opportunity, it is harder for Americans to move from poverty to the middle class in comparison to those who are poor in other western nations.

While I don't bother with fast food since I eat organic veggies and other omnivore foods (non-Monsanto/no factory farm), I don't call people working there 'scum bags.' I wonder if Notto knows that many 'regular' restaurants that aren't fast food often pay low wages/use chemicals/factory farmed animals as well, depending on the restaurant. There are even some vegetarian restaurants using GMO veggies and Orangutan habitat destroying palm oil as well.

Pamela W.
Pamela W.2 years ago

Hi Dale !! ...... Yes I do remember the show, but it was more the "nasal traces",which seemed to be lingering on here after the depart of the agressor, that I was referring to LOL !!
I do agree with you about the presumptions though - you can't possibly judge a person by the job they do, as it can be they have taken that particular job for any number of reasons. I have many qualifications, but have worked occasionally, in jobs that didn't require any of them .... the job (or the location, or the unusual hours) just happened to fit in with what my life needed at that time.