Fast Food Workers Strike In 4th Major City

Fast food workers in Detroit stage walkout.If you want to understand why 400 fast food workers protested in Detroit on Friday, even though they risked being fired, just ask Jamal Harris. The 21-year-old Detroit man (pictured at right) works three jobs at three fast-food restaurants: Burger King, Long John Silver's and Checkers. Logging more than 80 hours a week, at just $7.40 an hour, Harris says he does whatever is needed, from working the cash register to flipping burgers. None of his employers provide him with benefits. "Tripling up is the only way I can provide for myself," he says in an interview with AOL Jobs.

Still, Harris was on the picket lines Friday, the largest protest held by fast food workers in the U.S. Detroit was the fourth American city in which fast food workers staged walkouts, starting with one in New York in November 2012. The Detroit workers, like fast food workers in the three other cities, are calling for a doubling of the minimum wage to $15 an hour. They're also demanding full-time schedules so that employers will provide medical benefits. "Workers should be treated fairly for their work," says Harris, who is single. "The more we stand together, another form of enslavement will be broken."

The Detroit workers represent 60 different fast-food chains, according to the Michigan Workers Organizing Committee, a coalition of community and labor groups that led the protest. By Friday afternoon, the strikes causes the early closing of at least four fast-food restaurants in the Detroit area, according to the organizers.

Employers including Burger King have yet to respond to requests for comment from The Detroit News and The Associated Press.

Search Job Openings

In Partnership With


So far, protests have occurred in Chicago, New York, and St. Louis.

More: 40% Of Fast Food Workers Think Their Jobs Might Make The World Worse


The fast food protests mark a new chapter for labor activism in America. As service jobs continue to take on a larger role in the American economy, jobs like fast-food work are no longer just for teens, earning pocket money; these jobs have become the only means for adults to support themselves and their families.

Activists are hoping to turn these jobs into livable wages. But as it currently stands, the average worker in "food preparation" earns a salary of $18,720 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average annual salary for all Americans, however, stands at roughly $41,000.

New activism for workers has also focused on the retail sector, which, like fast food, is fast-growing but offers poorly paying jobs. And protesters have targeted the country's largest retailer Walmart, which employs 1.2 million Americans. But according to Salon.com, some Walmart workers have been fired this past year for trying to protest for better working conditions.

Harris, for his part, only barely makes enough to pay his bills and pay his rent. Even though he's not able to put away any money for college, he says he'd eventually like to study to work in human resources, or something that involves "paperwork and numbers." He's also working on a book about personal faith, he says.

Fast Food Workers Strike In New York City


Don't Miss: Companies Hiring Now


Related Stories


Looking for a job? Click here to get started.


Filed under: Employment News
Dan Fastenberg

Dan Fastenberg

Associate Editor

Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.

Follow Dan on Twitter. Email Dan at daniel.fastenberg@teamaol.com. Add Dan to your Google+ circles.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

138 Comments

Filter by:
tnrunning8

So, I've seen 3 pictures of the strikers.. All members have been black. I have so far, seen no whites or Asians. Is this going to mean that down the road when this debates is fueled by the media, that if we don't support the minimum wage increase, that we are racist? After all, what other reason could it be for them to use only pictures of black employees?

August 30 2013 at 12:23 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
tnrunning8

They feel they deserve 15.00 an hour, but they shouldn't have to go to college or even finish high school, or pass a drug test. Interesting. I think we should refer to these people as the "Looters" for they want all the benefits of others that did make the sacrifices of going to college or providing the work of excellence, But with out doing any of that... Looters. Now how many good people out there are going to support the Looters, and be responsible for all our demise?

August 30 2013 at 12:20 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
tnrunning8

Yea, this is real smart. Lets just continue to raise the cost of labor in this country and see how many more jobs go over seas. Some people don't have a lick of sense, and they are the ones voting in mass numbers and beginning to out number the smart people. Jobs left this country due to labor expense, what do you think raising the minimum wage is going to do??? Think about it, if someone pulling a handle to put a screw in a hole gets 15.00 an hour, the price of that part has to be raised. The next company buying that part has to pay more, therefore raise the cost of the final product. By the time it gets to the stores, the item has risen in price, this is called inflation. And to some people they have no idea what causes this. We continually raised the minimum wage ever so many years, with the exact same effect. About 3 years later, the economy adjust and the new minimum wage is now poverty again. Yet the retired people living on a fixed income from savings they created years before, are not unable to survive.

August 30 2013 at 12:17 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
cherubian

I am appalled at the naysayers, how can anyone object to someone making a fair wage. $15 a hour is not a lot of money and people still struggle that make that amount. Fast food is a thankless job and the people work hard to earn what little they do. I applaud their efforts and solidarity is the only way to give owners a wake up call. Kudos to the strikers and I hope they get what they want.

August 29 2013 at 11:36 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cherubian's comment
tnrunning8

If you pay them 15 an hour today, with in 3 years as the economy corrects itself and adjust, 15.00 an hour will be poverty at the end of 3 years. History has proved this every time a minimum wage increase has happened. All that happens is inflation. We need a starting point, and a place for the very bottom of the employee scale to get jobs. Fast food is about as simple as work gets. Those jobs are for that class of people that work there. And some people will decide to better themselves and get better jobs. What we have here today, is people that won't better themselves, just demand more pay instead. But keep in mind, if the bottom skilled and less desirable jobs are paying 15.00 an hour, your life will be affected as well. As all products will begin to raise again. And as labor becomes more expensive in this country, even more companies will take their jobs over seas.

August 30 2013 at 12:11 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
teedee911

Rule#1 Stay in school. (Diploma, GED)
Rule#2 Don't do drugs (Pass a drug test)
Rule#3 Stay out of truoble (Pass a background check)

Breakin' the rules?

Well than thank God for Macdonalds.

$15.00 an hour? .......march on.

August 29 2013 at 10:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chris Smith

Yes, the average American earns $41,000 a year. We are talking about very below average people here. But really, everyone has to start somewhere. Work your way up!

August 29 2013 at 9:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
cyclonex65

Stupid **** shouldn't dropped out of school.

August 29 2013 at 8:58 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
lovetheworld82

$15 an hour?? that is insulting to people with jobs 5 times the difficulty level of a fast food employee and making that much an hour. Ridiculous.

May 14 2013 at 12:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Dr. David Secord

"The more we stand together, another form of enslavement will be broken."
I’m going to assume here that the “form of enslavement” this character is hoping to break is ignorance? So, the economy is lousy and Obamacare is forcing employers to either cut staff to part-time or go bankrupt and the person to blame is……the evil business owner attempting to make a profit? I guess it’s good to know that not all the morons, completely ignorant of basic economics, live in New York. Once again, if all fast-food employees were suddenly paid about twice what they earn now, what do you suppose would happen to the price of the food they serve? And once that Big Mac meal is $15.00, who do you think is going to pay that for fast food? The end result? Labor prices a business into insolvency and instead of minimum wage, you earn nothing. Big labor has priced the textile, electronics, steel and (eventually) automotive industries right out of this country. Is fast food next? Boy, these people are stupid.

May 14 2013 at 9:54 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
TA

I work in the fast food industry and I think this is ridiculous. I am also against raising minimum wage. I explain to one of the kids that works for us. if minimum wage goes up then so do prices, someone has to pay for it. that is a doubling of minimum wage. so, the $20 t-shirt you bought today will be $40-$50. He was only looking at the $$$$ not at the overall big picture. Even when I was minimum wage, I understood the concept of the more you make the more they take. Government raises minimum wage because thats what the people want, and if they get more tax money that is an added bonus for them. As far as unions are concerned, they are in the same boat as the government, yeah they'll take your money. so in the long run min wage may be $15, but by the time taxes and union dues are taken out, you are worse off than when you started.

May 14 2013 at 7:49 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to TA's comment
njenel

wake up! prices are not adjusted to your meager wage

May 14 2013 at 8:15 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to njenel's comment
willw

Gimme Gimme Gimme is all your replies say. You're part of the "what can the country do for me" generation. A.K.A. Free Handout generation.

May 14 2013 at 8:55 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down

Search Jobs

In Partnership With
Keywords:
Location:

Search Articles

Top Companies Hiring

July 27 - Aug 3

Looking for work? See what companies added new openings this week.

×

Check out our new Map Search

Locate your next job using the new AOL Jobs Map Search!

Pin down your next great opportunity today.