Why New York City’s Fast Food Workers Are Right To Strike

Written by Pat Garofalo

Fast food workers in New York City are launching a strike today, ahead of the largest unionization drive to ever hit the industry. The walkouts began at 6:30 this morning at a McDonald’s, as workers “protest what they said were low wages and retaliation against several workers who have backed the unionization campaign.”

Workers in the fast food industry have every reason to be upset. As the National Employment Law Project detailed in a report earlier this year, some of the largest fast food chains — including McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell — are some of the largest employers of low-wage workers, but are making huge profits as the nation emerges from the Great Recession:

The three largest low‐wage employers in the United States – Wal‐Mart, Yum! Brands (the operator of fast food chains Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC), and McDonald’s – offer a revealing look at the resiliency of low‐wage employers in the post‐recession economy.

Each of these corporations was profitable during all of the last three fiscal years, and each of them now earns profits that are substantially higher than their pre‐recession levels.

One in four workers is expected to be in low-wage industries over the next decade, and a majority of the jobs added since the recession have been low-wage jobs. Also, as Sarah Jaffe noted in the Atlantic, “these jobs are not being done by teenagers.” “Across the country, the median age of fast-food workers is over 28, and women — who make up two-thirds of the industry — are over 32,” she wrote. If these workers are going to make a living, a strike and unionizing may be the only way to make it happen.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.


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Photo: Pierce Place/flickr


Dale O.

Sarah H doesn't like public sector unions...which is puzzling but why comment about unions pertaining to the public sector--meaning those working for the state as opposed to unions for private enterprise. Unions are there for a reason otherwise people are often badly treated especially in the lower paying jobs. Some excesses at times but would one want to return to the time before unions existed? Most would not.

Mit Wes
Mit Wes3 years ago

Unions certainly have implemented their share of abuses,but, i have to agree with Kevin B. The world really is a lot better with unions than without them.

Christopher M.
Christopher M.3 years ago

I tried to work at McDonald's with a college degree and then again with a Master's degree but WV is so saturated with high school dropouts I was not welcome.

Christopher M.
Christopher M.3 years ago

Are these folks educated? I can just hear the conservatives saying, get an education, don't work at McDonald's.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Sarah H. that is insane. If your job pays badly the answer is to address that problem, not make other workring Americans jobs pay equally as badly. What is that, a "share the misery" philosophy? Unions are a workers best defense against abuse, always has been.

Andy Cox
Andy Cox3 years ago

In fact, income tax ultimately derives from employers. Your capitalist boss has to dig into his pockets to pay you a net wage + a bit extra to the taxman. Have a good look at your payslip if you’re in receipt of one. It’s simply an illusion that you ‘pay’ income tax. This explains why its individual capitalists that are so antipathetic to tax (big corporations such as Starbucks and Amazon will always try to evade paying it, as the current furore in the UK demonstrates, but generally comprehend the necessity for infrastructural spending by government for the benefit of the capitalist class in toto). What’s so incomprehensible is why working class cretins such as those in the fast waning ‘Tea Party’ and similar backwoods outfits, should take up cudgels for their masters

Andy Cox
Andy Cox3 years ago

So its time to ‘It's time to get rid of the unions, especially the public sector unions’, is it, Sarah H? Clearly, you harbour some unsavoury fascist notions. How exactly do you propose to ‘get rid of’ the unions? The most fundamental divide in the modern world is between capital and labour; or more loosely, between the 1% and the 99% (See andycox1953.webs.com). Now unless you’re some ermine-coated representative of the former – which I expect is not the case – you’re obviously suffering from a bad case of false consciousness. I shan’t rehash my rationale for unions (see below). But I would like to correct your delusion that ‘we’, meaning the workers, ‘pay’ our public sector fellow workers

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

It's time to get rid of the unions, especially the public sector unions. It is just wrong for public workers to make more than those who pay their salaries (the taxpayers).

tanya w.
Tanya W.3 years ago

Pay decent wages for those who work hard to make sure you get the food you love.

Marijke Baars
Past Member 3 years ago

Thanks for sharing