Fast Food Worker Strikes Go Global

Fast food workers to strike across 150 cities and six continents

Getty ImagesFast food workers campaigning for higher wages on May 7 in New York City.

Yesterday, fast food workers holding a press conference outside a Manhattan McDonald's announced plans for a nationwide strike on May 15, when employees of McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, and other fast food giants will push for better treatment and $15 per hour pay. The strikes won't be limited to the U.S., the group said--on the same date, they'll be joined by thousands of workers across six continents.

"We've gone global," said Ashley Cathey, a McDonald's worker from Memphis, Tennessee. "Our fight has inspired workers around the world to come together."

The international agenda includes protests, teach-ins, and even a series of flash mobs inside five McDonald's restaurants in the Philippines. Japan alone will be the site of 30 protests; the UK will have protests in 20 different cities.

The planned strikes push back against more than just low wages. Hungry for Justice organizer Julie Sherry, who said the average fast food worker in the U.K. makes the equivalent of $8.50 per hour, described the enforced "zero-hours" contracts the company uses to boost profits. Under these contracts, workers have no guaranteed hours, but can be called into work at any time. According to Sherry, 90 percent of the company's U.K. workforce lives on these contracts.

"In the UK, we are at the beginning of a battle to take on the multinationals dominating the fast food industry, ensure workers know their rights, and open the door to organizing fast food workers into unions, and it's fantastic to be a part of a global movement," said Sherry.

Some of the foreign protestors are striking in solidarity with the U.S. workers. Louise Marie Rantzau, a McDonald's worker in Denmark, said she makes $21 an hour, and was surprised to hear how hard U.S. employees have to fight for just $15.

The federal minimum wage of $7.25 was last raised in 2009. While some states and localities have raised their minimum wages recently, attempts to boost the federal minimum wage seem unlikely to succeed in Congress.

The strikes, in the U.S. and abroad, will challenge the notion that fast food workers consist mainly of teenagers looking for extra cash, rather than parents struggling to raise families on minimum (or minimal) wage.

They'll also make a case that these are the jobs that are driving economic recovery. Michael Evangelist, author of a recent National Employment Law Project report, described fast food as the industry driving the bulk of low-end job growth. In that case, corporations have an added impetus to make these jobs better.

"This is just the beginning of an unprecedented international fast food worker movement," said Ron Oswald, general secretary of the IUF, a federation comprised of 396 trade unions in 126 countries representing a combined 12 million workers. "This highly profitable global industry better take note."

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they should all quit and take jobs as brain surgeons or engineers

May 11 2014 at 6:31 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Mark Jacob

McDonalds: Sorry we cant drop quality our lower then trash.

May 09 2014 at 12:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jesus Saves

To all those who think they deserve $15.00 an hour: I think you should invest in a basic econ 101 course. I can make the assumption that econ has never been your major given the fact that you are working for minimum wage or near it. This also tells me you are a renter and not a home owner. Given these facts, you should prepare yourself for some unpleasant economic scenarios in your future. First, your landlords or the owners of the apartment you live at are watching this situation very close. If you are paying let’s say $800 a month for an apartment and when you rented it you and a roommate, spouse or significant other filled out an application that shows your income(s) and from where it is derived from. As soon as your income jumps from $8-10 an hour to $15 an hour your landlord will re-assess your rents. Landlords generally price their rentals about the same as others in the same neighborhood… some a little higher and some a little lower. Apartment Rentals are always priced at what the market will pay. So your demands for your employer to ensure you make a “livable wage” will be short lived. You will soon be paying $1200 a month or more.
There’s more doom in your horizon… Wal-Mart, the store that your regularly shop at (even though you tell everyone you never shop there) will have to raise prices because they were forced to virtually double their labor costs overnight. So now, you’ll have to pay more for rent, more for food; frankly, you’ll have to pay more for any service or product that is made by or offered by minimum wage employees. Other institutions like Netflix, Red box, AMPM and Cell Phone companies may increase prices too just because they know you have more money to spend. Sadly, each of the stores will likely have to eliminate a position or two in order to keep up with the new labor costs. Hopefully you are not one of them because you can bet that the government in most states will not increase unemployment benefits anytime soon… it’s simply not in their budget.
Lastly, if you indulge in any recreational drugs you can bet that Johnny, Terrell or Fernando will be increasing their prices too. If you would have just worked harder, smarter, took a college class or two, read books about your industry or how to become your own entrepreneur you would have simply become one of those who rose above the minimum wage. Now you are stuck… at least for a while.

May 09 2014 at 4:30 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I most definitely believe the Minimum wage should be raised, but $15/hours is a bit unrealistic. On the other side of the coin, a CEO making $9500/hour is obscene and morally criminal.

May 09 2014 at 3:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to doonooch's comment

Please.......when you start to dictate what the highest wage should be....and the lowest is already dictated then you close the loop or just consider this communism. No thanks....did not work before....will not work now. Wake up and read your history books!

May 09 2014 at 3:55 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Welcome MSGT

Get an education and you too can make $9500/hr as a CEO.

May 09 2014 at 1:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Andrew Taylor

Can't you see that McDonald's not meant to be sustainable anymore--time has changed for the better. They have to go.

May 09 2014 at 3:00 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

What'smore hourly worker wanting to make $15.00 an hour...or the CEO of that company making $9500 an hour???

May 09 2014 at 2:50 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jdg1162's comment

An hourly worker who makes 15 and least the CEO does something to better himself by going to school and not expecting handouts to cover for every bad choice they made in life...,By the way are you feeling better? The corporate pawn who worked hard to make something of himself and found out that sometimes hard work does pay off (as long as the gov't isn't involved) is curious. Am guessing shoe polish poisoning from licking you union masters boots?

May 09 2014 at 3:05 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Be a little more honest in your questions.

What's more hourly worker whose highest and best skill level wanting $15/hr to fold a box, set a burger in a box, mop a floor, push a button on a register or take fries out of hot oil when a bell rings.........or the CEO of that company providing a return on investment to millions of shareholders (unions included), overseeing to operations of thousands of people in many countries, anticipating the direction of the market, developing new strategies and products and working an average of 80-100 hours per week making much larger amount.

Your $9500 per hour is a lie. Really should stop believing everything you read in HuffPo and try to actually learn the truth for yourself. Might have to do a little work but I promise it will make you a smarter person.

May 09 2014 at 3:56 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

a job is only worth what someone is willing to work for wages will rise to the point staffing needs are met

May 09 2014 at 2:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To you people who believe you should get $15 an hour.......
While I listened to my teacher in class you slept due to being tired from the activities in the back seat of a car the night before.......
While I studied nights to learn and become something in life you were too busy partying and again in the back seat of someone else's car (probably a different one every night.......)
Finally when the inevitable happened and you had that kid or 2 or 3.....and realized you had no way to pay for it and feed it; except to work at a minimum wage job which in you weren't qualified to do. (Quick, how much change do you give someone when they give you 10 dollars to pay for a $4.73 bill?)
Understand this, I won't support and buy from a business that decides they will pay you $15 and hour for the incompetent service you provide because fortunately I still have the right to choose where I spend my money.
Our damn fool gov't may force me to support you thru taxes.....and subsidize you thru all their BS programs but I sure as hell am not forced to do so in my private sector purchases.
Call me a HATER as I am damn proud of it.....I do HATE seeing someone paid $15 an hour with a 30 cent brain, 20 cents of ability 10 cents of common sense. The most you are worth is 60 cents an hour. You made bad choices....fix it your self and let us who did it right enjoy our efforts and quit expecting us to subsidize your worthless asses and offspring!

May 09 2014 at 2:37 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to user406324's comment

On the other side of your coin................

I wasn't a very good student, barely made it out of high school, didn't have enough money for college and going tens of thousands of dollars in debt without a firm plan for repayment wasn't in fashion back then.

So I worked a few minimum wage jobs (Jack in the Box, gas stations, etc) and finally went into the Army with a HS diploma. 7 years later I got out with a solid skill and years of mgmt experience (3 yrs enlisted, 4 yrs as a Warrant Officer)

One doesn't have to go to college to have a comfortable life. Make some decent choices, take advantage of opportunities, keep moving forward and learning a skill can give you a solid base from which to retire.

But we're in agreement that $15/hr for punching pictures on a cash register or saying 'welcome to Wal-Mart' is a little ridiculous.

May 09 2014 at 3:19 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

Make it a month long strike please. We'll miss you... NOT!

May 09 2014 at 2:19 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

This is a reasonably complex issue. Is not as easy as saying or asking for $15.00 an hour, period. The ramifications are many folds. These greedy corporations will raise the cost of food they sell a lot to recover that extra pay 7 the consumers end up paying & not the comapnies.
Also $15.00 an hour is a little high for the skill set but something in the order of $12.00 an hour sounds more reasonable.
And finally do not work for these corporations if you don't like what they pay. There are other slightly better paid low end jobs that one can do. Fast foods is not the only one. Every time there is a fast food restaurant opening, they get hundreds of applications so people like to work for them 7 want those jobs.. The only way to beat these companies is by not working for them & once they face staff shortages then they will have no choice but to pay a higher hourly rate to attract people. As long as there is a huge pool of people wanting to work there then there will be no higher wage. There are a lot of people who work in these places that come from very poor third world countries & bearly speak English or have any kind of skills so they fill these jobs. The corporations do not put a gun to your head saying that you have to work for us for a low wage. DO NOT WORK FOR THEM IF YOU CAN SUPPORT YOURSELF SOMEHOW OR CAN GET ANOTHER JOB & WHEN THEY FACE STAFF SHORTAGES THEN & ONLY THEN THEY WILL RAISE THE HOURLY RATE TO ATTRCAT PEOPLE!! UNTIL THEN YOU ARE ALL WASTING YOUR TIME FIGHTING FOR IT. IT AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN!!

May 09 2014 at 2:18 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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