McDonald's Server On Strike: 'We Worry About Going Hungry'

Stephanie Sanders By Stephanie Sanders

A lot of people have been asking me why I went on strike. I have a simple answer: Because I'm not a teen anymore.

I work at McDonald's, and I hear a lot of people talk about how fast-food jobs are for teenagers. Well, I'm not a teenager. I'm 33 years old. And I work with a lot of people in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are working to pay their rent and put food on the table.

I worked fast-food as a teen to make a few extra bucks for clothes and a cellphone. My job didn't pay me enough to support myself, but I didn't need to support myself. I thought I'd go on to get a "grown-up" job, one that would pay all my bills and not have to choose between food and keeping the lights on.

I did get that "grown-up" job, selling skin products at a brand-name skin-care store. I got to use my people skills -- working with customers to figure out which products were best for their skin. The more I listened to and connected with customers, the more I sold. I was good at my job. I ended up being a top salesperson.

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I made $16.50 an hour plus some commission. I felt good knowing that I was helping the company be profitable and helping myself. I made enough in base salary to be able to afford a roof over my head, food on the table and decent clothes. And if I worked really hard and made a lot of sales, I got more money, too.

I had that job for 6½ years. Then the economy crashed, and people didn't have money to spend on face lotions anymore. At first, I thought I'd get another decent-paying job in a month or two. I had good sales experience and great references.

I couldn't find another decent sales job, no matter how hard I tried. So I finally did something I never thought I'd do. I got another fast-food job.

I make $7.25 an hour, less than half of what I made in my last job. That's OK if you're 16 and you want to buy a phone or sneakers, but it's not OK if you're supporting yourself. Even though I serve food at my job, I can't afford to buy enough food. I have to rely on food stamps. I'd go hungry without them.

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When I went on strike last week, I was in a crowd of other workers who are struggling just like me. Most of us are older and have rent and bills to pay. Some of us have kids. All of us have to make hard choices between food and medicine, lights and rent. We all worry about going hungry or ending up homeless.

We don't make enough money to take care of ourselves or to help our neighborhoods. If we had a few extra dollars in our pockets, we'd spend it and help create jobs and help get the economy going again.

It gets to me. I was a pretty happy person when I worked at the skin care store, but now I have panic attacks. I went on strike last week because I can't stand the stress of trying to live on minimum wage. Worrying about the future is the hardest part, because at $7.25, I don't have a future.

Stephanie Sanders is a McDonald's worker and a member of the Milwaukee Workers Organizing Committee, fast-food workers who have joined together to seek fair pay and the right to form a union. Her story was originally published in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Lunchtime Live - The Reality of Working in the Fast Food Industry.M4v


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sas7777

Yeah..She really looks like she's worried about going hungry...

July 25 2013 at 10:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rocknrollcapt

all i have to say is that obama sold us out. he has gone on with the agenda and is raping us along with big oil and the rest of the big corporations. i say its time for a revolution. we are not the same america anymore the real america went to hell in 1969.

May 26 2013 at 6:39 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
pm0501

For those uninformed voters..... You have no rights to keep your job if you go out on a strike and are not represented by a bargaining agent as in a union you belong to! Non-union workers that go out on a so called strike, might as well turn in their resignations.

May 26 2013 at 2:23 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
pm0501

Why does anyone need to make $15.00/hr when Brothah "O" can make up the difference with entitlements out of the taxes taken from those making $28.00/hr?

May 26 2013 at 2:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

Looking at the picture of the woman holding the sign I'd say she hasn't missed a happy meal in a long time.

May 26 2013 at 12:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
msdaubie54

I worked at McDonald s for the same wage. Managers got a free meal of any sandwich they wanted. The crew meal consisted of a $1 hamburger or cheeseburger, small fries, and small coke.That meal may be enough for a child, but not for an adult worker. The insurance offered wasn't affordable for crew members. Yet, if I could, I would go back. It isn't much, but it is a job. I'm not able to return to work due to disability, but if there isn't another job out there, apply at McDonald's . In some areas, the pay is even better than minimum wage.

May 25 2013 at 10:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to msdaubie54's comment
pm0501

Sounds like the manager was stiffing his crew! The McDonalds down the road from me gives their crew the same meal allowances as the manager.

May 26 2013 at 2:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ursula.jones

The McDonalds I worked at gave everyone the same food allowances and it wasn't a small burger. Maybe it was just that store.

June 25 2013 at 9:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
teegarden6

you could have gotten a sales job at home depot or lowes, iv worked for both and the pay is decent plus medical plus vacations. they are always hiring. so dont say you had to get a job at mcdonalds.if you did have to get a job at mcdonalds may you need a part time job on top of that, there are way to make a living whineing isnt one of them.

May 25 2013 at 9:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ranewbould

I think we might be missing the point here. If these folks can't afford food or the shop at Walmart of eat at Mickey D's, the economy, irrespective of wall street's rose colored glasses, is about to go down the tubes because there is no middle class or middle class growth the keep the economy growing. I muse about the wonder in the White House, who was so great as a community organizer. His objective was to improve the lot of the lower class and move them into the middle class. It didn't happen then and the last two administrations have crushed the middle class to fodder for the bankers and brokers to extract cash like the overlords from the serfs in the middle ages. Time to plant potatoes.

May 25 2013 at 8:27 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
reharris366

These fast food jobs are for people trying to better theselves with an education to get better and higher paying jobs. If you want a career and better pay at the fast food restaurant. get an education and move up to management.

May 25 2013 at 7:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bharrison777

Companies don't pay you what you need for a living wage but what you are worth to them and what they can replace you for. Econonmic, basic economic.

May 25 2013 at 5:19 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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