Fast food worker strike begins with arrests nationwide

Protesters demanding higher wages and unionization for fast food workers march near Times Square on September 4, 2014 in New York City.(AFP Photo / Andrew Burton)RT

Fast food workers from around 150 cities across the United States went on strike early Thursday in an effort to secure higher wages and the right to join a union.

At least 19 demonstrators were arrested Thursday morning in New York City’s Times Square, police told the Daily News, with similar results being reported out of Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Las Vegas, Indianapolis and elsewhere as employees at eateries from coast-to-coast rally for an industry minimum wage of $15 and the ability to unionize.  

“The company should pay me more. I am worth more,” Dana Wittman, a 38-year-old Pizza Hut employee in Kansas City, Missouri who makes $9 an hour told the Guardian this week. “They make billions a year and I don’t even get health insurance. The CEO gets health insurance.”

According to NBC News, the pizza chain’s Kansas City location is one of 60 eateries in that town alone where workers were expected to picket on Thursday. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported that about 50 people demonstrated outside of a McDonalds in the major Ohio city, and actions were reportedly underway at Taco Bell, Wendy’s and other fast food shops nationwide.

A protester demanding higher wages and unionization for fast food workers is arrested by police near Times Square on September 4, 2014 in New York City. (AFP Photo / Andrew Burton)

By late Thursday morning, the largest action appeared to be at Times Square, where a sit-in outside a McDonalds in the Big Apple’s famed theatre district started at 7 a.m. and netted nearly 20 arrests by the morning’s end, according to witnesses; one onlooker there, the Guardian reported, said hundreds were outside of the Times Square McDonalds by 6:30 a.m., and similar actions were planned for later in the day across NYC.

In all instances, protesters have been causing a commotion in hopes of raising awareness of their intent to set a $15 minimum wage for industry workers across the board. Last year, a report from the National Employment Law Project revealed that the median hourly wage for cooks, cashiers and crews at these restaurants is $8.94.

Terrence Wise, a Burger King worker from Oakland, California, told the Huffington Post ahead of this week’s demonstrations that the latest round of protests comes after fast food employees voted earlier this year to continue fighting for better conditions.

Protesters demanding higher wages and unionization for fast food workers march near Times Square on September 4, 2014 in New York City.(AFP Photo / Andrew Burton)

“Thirteen hundred workers unanimously adopted a resolution at our convention in July to do whatever it takes to win $15 an hour and union rights, including participating in non-violent, peaceful protests in the tradition of the civil rights movement,” Wise said. “On Thursday, we are prepared to take arrests to show our commitment to the growing Fight for $15.”

Even US President Barack Obama acknowledged the planned demonstrations and the strife of fast food workers during an address on Labor Day this week.

“All across the country right now there’s a national movement going on made up of fast-food workers organizing to lift wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity,” Obama said. “There is no denying a simple truth. America deserves a raise.”

By noontime Thursday on the East Code, the Guardian had reported 30 arrests related to the protests in Detroit, eight in St. Louis and a handful in San Diego and Little Rock.

Demonstrators take part in a protest in front of a McDonald's Restaurant In Chicago, Illinois, September 4, 2014. (Reuters / Jim Young)

15 thoughts on “Fast food worker strike begins with arrests nationwide

  1. I may be pissing a lot of people off with this comment, but…
    If they raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks, your GMO happy meal will cost over ten bucks. On top of that, all of the places that are paying their employees a few dollars more than minimum wage will have to raise their pay to avoid losing their employees to McDonalds. After that all prices will be raised and we will not be able to afford our groceries, gas and other things. Thus bankrupting this country further. I believe that these protests are backed by the same folks that want America to crash

    1. Agree 100%! This IS communism inspired by those folks that want to bring America as we used to know it-down to below third world status.

  2. I agree, Bulldog.

    But since when were McDonalds jobs EVER supposed to be a living wage, apart from perhaps the manager’s position?

    We used to have these jobs for teenagers who were just starting out. Now, at least where I live, these jobs are occupied by immigrants or older adults who should have been taught a trade and had the opportunity to get a skilled labor job to support themselves and even a family. But there aren’t so many of those jobs anymore — at least, not around here — and the ones that are here are being increasingly filled by immigrants who are not highly skilled, who do not turn out the high quality product that American labor used to produce, and who are willing to work for $10 an hour instead of the $25 an hour that was regularly paid, 30 years ago. We used to have skilled labor. Now, we have day laborers. I am not sure the answer to this, because this problem has been a long time coming, deliberately engineered. So, we gotta find an answer, and it isn’t going to come from government.

    1. I believe the answer is to shut down the border and DC and deport everyone here illegally and everyone in DC. That will solve 90% of our problems.

        1. How about to Iraq? Let them play with isis for a while. Just before the plane lands, we can air drop a few thousand very dull knives to isis and some video cameras.
          Or even better, Detroit. 🙂

  3. Well I guess I’ll really piss some off then……….. The unions are behind this and in MHO they should be shut down. Big money and power that has a strangle hold on this country. When they started, for a fair wage and safe working conditions it was better for the workers, but now it’s just greed and power.

  4. These fast food joints are going to automate as much as possible. Think of it as fast food vending machines. There will be few, if any, employees in the near future.
    Machines don’t get sick, don’t strike, won’t spit on your food if you’re white, make very little mistakes by comparison with humans, and can work 24/7 for pennies on the dollar
    Looks like these folks just advanced the “automation” ball further down the court.
    I know a fellow that owns a franchise or two and he’s looking into automation; he’s sick of the labor issues and it’s worth it to him to invest in the robots and software. I don’t blame him.

  5. With the American police involved. You know the situation will go down hill fast from here. Let them strike. Let them win a few. So you have a few places raise wage to $15 one week and go out of business the next month as the profit is gone. And the nonunion place next door is paying $10 a hour. Such is the risk that a business person takes. And it is there risk and money to invest. They have to shut down that is business. And that is the law under the antitrust laws in America. One shop can be union and the place next door nonunioun. With the same name on the building. So they have to organize union 1 joint at a time. And 1 joint at a time will lock up for a year and reopen the next year under new management. And nonunion. So let them strike! and if the area will suport a union joint that has higher prices so be it. Or managment can invest in automation and cut help. There right to do there. But turning the police loose they best park there retreat vehicles around the corner illegaly for the fast getaway. Will not be long before they need use that and the .50 on top to flee.

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