Fast-Food Workers Walk Off Jobs Worldwide

Walk-outs planned for Thursday in 150 U.S. cities

McDonald's Workers, Activists Protest McDonald's Labor Practices
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It started with a brief walkout at a few restaurants in New York City back in November 2012, but on Thursday the campaign against low pay at America's fast food restaurants morphed into a global push.

By 9 a.m., the organizing group reported that demonstrators were outside two McDonalds outlets in New York City and one in Boston. Claims that stores in several cities had to shut down for lack of personnel were disputed by management.

Hours ago, young workers in the Philippines staged a singing and dancing flash mob inside a downtown Manila McDonalds during the morning rush hour. Their choice of music was the song "Let It Go" from Frozen.

When the news from abroad started coming in, workers at a Seattle McDonalds walked out in solidarity.

A McDonalds restaurant in Mumbai, where workers are represented by a union, was shut down by protesters despite a threat of arrest, according to the organizing group FastFoodGlobal. Action was reported in Switzerland, Japan and South Korea.

Fast-food workers are expected to walk off their jobs in 150 cities from Oakland to Orlando. The protests will be a first for fast-food workers in Miami, Orlando, Philadelphia and Sacramento.

The events are intended to publicize the employees' demand for a $15-an-hour wage. The median pay nationwide for fast-food restaurant workers is $8.69 an hour.

Rev. Cheri Kroon of Flatbush Reformed Church in Brooklyn was present at a demonstration in New York City's Herald Square. "My church is surrounded by fast food establishments. Stand on that corner and throw a rock, you'll hit a fast food restaurant," she told AOL Jobs. "I think churches need to say no when it comes to an industry that treats their employees as disposable, and this is an industry that just throws away its workers. People who work a job full-time should not have to come to my soup kitchen."

Organized by a group called Fast Food Forward, the walk-outs are expected to hit only two or three restaurants in each city, all of them big name brands like McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC.

In an unusual twist, events in support of the U.S. protests are planned in 30 nations around the world, from Ireland to Morocco to Panama, where American fast-food restaurants have become a familiar sight.

The cooperative effort was organized by the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations, a federation that is composed of 396 trade unions in 126 countries.

The global events were expected to include a teach-in at a McDonald's corporate headquarters in Auckland, New Zealand, and flash-mobs inside five restaurants the Philippines. A day later, Italian fast-food workers plan a national strike at fast-food restaurants in Rome, Milan and Venice.

Because of the time difference, the Auckland event has already occurred. Fast-food employees there have union representation and better working conditions than most. An organizer there said New Zealand workers just wanted to show support for their counterparts in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who has been a prominent participant in the debate over pay inequality, is among the active supporters of the effort. He contributed a video in which he makes the case for higher pay for fast-food workers, and a higher minimum wage for all workers.

An opinion page article in The Detroit News dismisses the entire effort as a charade, charging that it is "nothing more than Potemkin Village protests led by national labor unions," and is "part of a larger corporate smear campaign against the fast-food industry, stage-managed from the top down."

The commentary notes that the campaign has been funded by the Service Employees International Union.

But as Kroon explained, the demonstrations go beyond the issue of worker pay to encompass alleged criminal actions committed by fast food restaurants against their employees. "I've testified before the city council about the fact that many fast food workers, their paychecks bounce, which is illegal," she said. "If you go to cash checking places in many parts of Brooklyn, they'll have a sign in the window that says, for instance, we do not accept checks from Wendy's on Fulton Street. And so now you have a worker who has to go and find someplace else to cash their check."

The fast-food workers' campaign comes in the midst of a national debate over the minimum wage. President Barack Obama is pushing for an increase to $10.10 an hour for the minimum, from the current $7.25. A number of states have increased their own minimum wage rates in 2014.

Additional reporting by Mack Gelber

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Gina M. Rizzo

Hey Peteronentvl....most people these days looking for a job can only find Fast Food places to support their families!!! The better jobs are scarce and few and far in between!! Times have changed and who could live on minimum wage??? Fast Food jobs are NOT just for Teenagers any more!! I do agree with you that fast food was not meant to feed families and pay your bills but the change of the times are now here...learn to go with the could be you in their shoes

August 05 2014 at 1:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Flipping burgers or running a register or mopping floors at a fast food place is not a $15 an hour job. I get the point about wanting a liveable wage. Done right almost any wage minimum wage or above is livable but you have to give up a lot. Calbe tv and cell phones are not basic needs. Fast Food jobs were never meant to be long term career jobs except for those that move up into management. If I owned a fast food place and you protested in front of it your job would be over. If you skip a shift to protest somewhere else or in protest then you would be fired. If you arent happy with the wages then quit and go find another job it really is just that simple. Yes I started my work career as a teenager working for minimum wage but I wanted more out of life then that so I move onward and upward. The really funny thing here is that some of the managers dont even make $15 an hour working in fast food.

May 26 2014 at 1:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

enough already this is old news.

May 22 2014 at 10:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

CONGRATULATIONS! Once again those fabulous unions are stirring the pot as unions have lost members for years and now they stir up those that can not be able to find another job. Do you honestly believe the unions really give a damn about you? Take a real good look at those citys, such as Detroit that was hugely union and look at Detroit today, no jobs, the city in bankruptcy and people left the city to where there are no one that wants to ever move back there..Be assured, companys will not be blackmailed into committing suicide as the owners know that they will eventually be forced to close down shop and your union sure as hell won't care that your out of your job, its all about the union getting their union dues, even when you have no job. A automobile plant in Tennessee recently voted and the union thought they were a shoe in and they were unamimously were voted out..The union never got in...America has had it with unionism as all it has caused is job losses...It's also why many companys outsource their work to foreign countrys...Fast food business's will replace those workers with automation and have no need to hire employees, so think again if you believe owners will not automate...Understand one thing, when the owner is paying out more than they can justifyingly make, he will cut down work hours and then automation will come into being quickly...So, when you strike, be assured many of you will come back off of strike to being fired and replaced.

May 18 2014 at 12:43 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Please....walk off the job there are hundreds that will take it and if they don't then the US will be healthier by not eating that crap. If you work at McDonalds or a fast food place you expect to get minimum wage. Mcdonalds, unless you are management, is not where your lifetime career goals should be. It is a stepping stone. It is the place where kids work to pay for their car insurance, or where somebody picks up a second job to help make ends meet. Demanding for more pay has never worked....they way to get more pay is to be a KICK ass employee so they promote you faster.

May 16 2014 at 1:52 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply


May 15 2014 at 7:42 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to DMN's comment

Hi DMN. I am with you that is a little steep. Maybe they will at least get to make &10.00/ hr.

May 15 2014 at 9:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First--Minimum wage should be reclassified as "Starting Wage". If you are succeeding in your job, more than likely you will get a raise and possibly a promotion. Managers will pay more for those that are competent at what they are doing. "Starting Wages" are there to weed out those who are not compatible with the job. If you are stuck in a "Starting Wage" you need to look at yourself and decide if you are right for that job and not languish in a low paying job. Second--"Starting Wage jobs are for the first time or part time workers who are there for extra income, not as a livelyhood. Again, if you are still being paid a "Starting Wage" after a year, two years, three years, you really need to find something else. Find something you're good at and you will be rewarded. Those who are crying about a living wage for a "Starting Wage" job are misguided and foolish.

May 15 2014 at 5:21 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I get why they are doing this, I once worked for .85 an hour. The thing is that while McD's & BK can afford 15.00 an hour small bussinesses can't. What this is going to do is put a lot of Americans out of work. I worked in the fast food industry and it's not like it's rocket science and I can't see getting paid the same as much harder and more complicated trades. I wiil tell you as I always told people that I worked with over the years, You knew what the hourly wage was when you took the job so if it didn't suit you then you shouldn't have took the job. If you want better pay then educate yourself for a job that will get you better pay. American small bussinesses are having a hard enough time. I have watched dozens of mom & pop stores go under in my little town already. This walk out crap is no different than being a bully who is holding their employer hostage & who has no qualms about putting other people out of work to get what you imagine your worth. I think I am worth a million dollars but I know damn well no one is going to pay me that. If these companies are forced to pay you 15.00 an hour then they need to cut your hours in half. If I was your boss I would have fired your ass on the spot. There are plenty of others in need of work. Everyone has been in these places & I know there are some great workers in them. But for every good worker there are 2 slackers that are goofing off texting on the phones or hanging out in the lobby or out back with their buddies. They need to stop allowing your cell phone in when you are working, stop giving meal discounts , give one warning for being late and the second time your late fire you. They need mgrs. that when you are on the clock make sure you aren' idle except when you are on break. If you miss work it should have to come with a doctors note. If you want 15.00 an hour then you should really earn it.

May 15 2014 at 4:30 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to JANIE's comment

You think too highly of yourself by saying you think your worth a million bucks but other people don't deserve fair wages. You are just assuming there are 2 bad workers for every one worker. When was the last time you worked for McDonalds? Every job in america has employees texting while they are supposed to be working, or on the phone with friends while on the time clock. I've seen plenty of businessmen all grouped together screwing around when they were supposed to be working. I've seen police officers use a police car and sit at their homes until they get a call or go shopping at Walmart until a dispatcher calls their radio. Or how about RN's hanging out laughing and telling jokes when there sick/injured people waiting to be seen? You must live in a bubble to think only fast food workers are slackers. How many times do you slack off at your job? How many personal calls have you taken while you were on the clock? Wouldn't that be considered theft of company time? I bet you and millions of others owe your bosses some money for some form of slacking at work so before you go pointing your high and mighty finger take a look in the mirror.

May 15 2014 at 5:57 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply

25 years ago I walked into a Burger King to apply for a job. I had managed a gas station (dont recall the pay), I had been an assistant manager at a photo developing place which paid $7 an hour (remember this was close to 30 years ago). I applied for the job at BK and got it on the spot, the manager handed me my uniform and I asked what the pay would be - I was expecting it to be around $5 as I knew it was a fast food job but the offer was $3.85 (minimum at the time was $3.35). I slid the uniform back across the desk and said no thanks. She asked so I told her the money wasnt enough she said well after 6 months I would be eligible for a 25 cent per hour increase (like that was going to be an incentive). I left without looking back. Went to a photo processing place 100 feet away and interviewed for a job their. Cheapskate owner offered me $5 an hour to manage the place and the workers. I was making $7 as an assistant manager in training at the previous photo place in another state so I certainly wasnt interested in taking on a job with all that responsibility for $2 an hour less. I accepted the job at the time but when it was time to start work I never went - he was some upset as he called me for 3 days. I went to a grocery store and took a job there stocking shelves for $5.10 an hour - my biggest responibility there was keep the end caps stocked with sale items and I was making more then the previous two places offered. So that job was fine but then the dairy/frozen foods manager was moving on and I was told that I was going to assume his job. I would get a raise to $6.10 and eventually I would get up to the $8.00 an hour he was making. I was okay with that plan. However 2 months later when the guy finally left the company owner decided that the dairy/frozen foods manager job could be eliminated in favor of adding it the the store assistant managers job. I was very friendly with the assistant manager and he felt awful about the whole thing. The store owner didnt give a crap about any of us just his bottom line. I bided my time to see how it all played out and then I noticed that I was scheduled to work July 4th (one of the 3 holidays I dont want to work on). July 4th came and I never showed up - walked away from the job. The assistant manager asked why when I came to get my last paycheck. I explained it to him and he said he understood and we left on good terms. A few months later the store owner (he had 14 stores) was charged with something related to how he paid woman less for the same job. The store managers were woman but the assistant managers were men and in some cases the assistant managers were paid more then the managers and in all other cases the woman managers and male assistant managers had similar pay. In the end the legal fees closed all 14 stores - karma came and got the old fart that owned the stores.

May 26 2014 at 1:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The fast food dummies want $15.00 an hour. Let them strike forever. Adults and their children will stay healthier. Educated adults can't even get that type of pay. Flipping burgers is not a profession. Get educated and then demand a higher wage.

May 15 2014 at 4:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to helaine735's comment

Well then wouldn't it be nice if "educated adults" earned a living wage? Just because someone works at a fast food place doesn't mean they deserve to not be able to take care of themselves or their families. If they had better wages then they would be able to pursue a better education and better job, then your kids could go work at the fast food place.

May 15 2014 at 5:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fire them all!....School is letting out all around the country, I'm sure there are millions of teenagers that would love the chance to earn some spending money, while learning the value of hard work in the process...
That of course would only work IF the teenagers could turn off and put away their "mobile" devices long enough to fill out an application..Which I seriously doubt is possible for them to do....

May 15 2014 at 4:09 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mwoosley3's comment

The worker in the fast food in industry were hired into these positions as a 'stepping stone, entry point' into the working field. True many have moved into management and outlet ownership positions but these jobs were not made to support a mortgagem spouse, children and all of the bills that are a big part of a family today. Young individuals that quit school, have no formal training in other fields of business, are single parents trying to raise several children or living with their parents, these jobs were not meant for them. They cannot complain because the 'minimum wage' does not pay their bills. Again, these jobs were meant for school kids looking to earn some money and continue their education and eventually move on to bigger and better things.

May 15 2014 at 4:22 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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