Some will go along with this out of solidarity with those who attempt to survive on a minimum wage while working for companies that are making record profits, some simply won’t care, and then, there will be those who usually avoid fast food, but will go get some as a way to show disdain for the worker and unity with the corporation. It is just what they do for validation.
August 29 is the day chosen for fast food workers to have a national walk out, and a day people are asked to avoid purchasing fast food.
People are beginning to pay attention to the gap between how little employees are paid while CEO’s amass fortunes and companies announce record profits.
People are also beginning to take notice of the danger to their own health because workers who are sick are forced to come into work rather than lose a day’s pay by staying home.
These walkouts have previously been limited to New York City, St. Louis, and Detroit, but this call that has garnered the support of communities and organized labor is nation-wide.
Companies like MacDonald’s that presents it employees with a suggested budget that does not include expenses like heat, but does admit that the employees would need a second job to make ends meet; Papa John’s Pizza whose founder lives in a multi-million dollar mansion surrounded by a moat and with garages that move cars around on elevators while cutting his employees’ hours to avoid healthcare coverage that would only add 14 cents to the price of a large pizza; and the Little Caesars Pizza owner who is having a new arena built by a bankrupt Detroit’s taxpayers for his hockey team while he could pay for it out of his $2.7 billion dollar bank account with just a dent to his fortune while paying his workers minimum wage, are among the companies and circumstances that have brought the income disparity to the attention of an increasing number of people.
The workers want a wage of $15 an hour and the right to form unions. Presently cashiers, cooks and crew members at fast-food restaurants are paid a median wage of $8.94 an hour. Even worse, food servers in restaurants get a base pay of $2.13 an hour with the rest dependent on the tips of patrons who are not always generous.
In November, 200 workers in New York City staged a walk out and these walk outs have spread out across the country.
After the previous walk outs, workers have seen an increase in wages and better hours.
The August 29 walkout is timed for the immediate aftermath of the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the lead-up to Labor Day. 35 or more cities and thousands of workers are involved.
Besides fast food workers, retail workers from stores such as Macy’s, Dollar Tree, and Sears are also participating.
So far Congress has voted against raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour when they get the equivalent of $179 an hour with healthcare and vacation time, and are getting a raise when they come back in session if they do not vote against it.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and other labor groups, along with religious groups, argue that many fast-food and low-paid retail workers are forced to rely on government aid programs while fast-food corporations rake in $200 billion a year in revenue.
Unlike the common assumption that we are talking about kids, most fast-food workers are adults relying on the jobs to support themselves and their families. The Economic Policy Institute reports that roughly eight out of 10 workers in the country earning minimum wage are 20 years of age or older and that half of them work 40 hours a week.
“It is clear that the bulk of minimum-wage workers are mid- or full-time adult employees, not teenagers or part-timers,” the EPI researchers said.
I am not aware of any organized walk outs here on Cape Cod, but that does not mean that we, as consumers, cannot drive past the fast food places here and grab a bite to eat at one of the local places owned and operated by locals from our own community to make our own statement of solidarity with the workers who are simply asking for a better, more realistic wage with sick pay.