Thursday, November 29, 2012

Super-size this strike

First there was the Black Friday Walmart Walkout. Today brings a fast food workers strike:
Today in New York City, though, hundreds of workers at dozens of fast-food chain stores are walking out on strike, demanding better of those jobs. At McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, KFC, Taco Bell, and Domino's Pizza locations, workers have been organizing, and today they launch their campaign. They want a raise, to $15-an-hour from their current near-minimum wage pay, and recognition for their independent union, the Fast Food Workers Committee.
In all these corporate worker actions, the media inevitably passes on these sort of statistics. I always wonder how they get to these numbers. Think they must average in the CEO compensation or something.
The median hourly wage for food service and prep workers is a mere $8.90 an hour in New York City, according to the New York Department of Labor. But Jasska Harris still makes the federal minimum wage -- $7.25 -- after five months on the job, and struggles to get even 35 hours a week. And that minimum wage buys less than it used to. A recent study from the National Employment Law Project pointed out that the value of the minimum wage is 30 percent lower than it was in 1968.
I've worked in a big box store. I know many people who still do and Jasska Harris is the norm. Particularly in "right to work" states these places pay the absolute legal minimum. Very few workers get full time hours. Where I worked, a 24 hour schedule for any week was rare even for long term employees. More common was 14 to 18 hours and that was doled out in four hour shifts. If a worker manages to endure the abuse long enough to merit a raise, their hours get cut in favor of a new employee making less. And if they get to a point where they actually qualify for benefits, chances are high they'll be laid off. Meanwhile, millions and billions of profits go to the owners and the corporate execs with a bit dribbled down to shareholders.

Nobody paid much attention when it was mostly kids taking these jobs, but now that we're turning into a "service" economy there are simply too many people trying to survive under these impossible conditions. It's a hideous, inhumane, unsustainable business model.

Check out the workers new twitter account fastfoodforward for photos. Workers unite. It's the only way to beat the plutocrats.

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