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Low-Wager Earners Walk-Out and Strike Across Country
Fast-food employees are planning strikes today to continue their efforts, brewing since, fall, to raise the minimum wage. Now that the recession’s losses are slowly being regained, we’ve seen a lot of hiring going on for lower paying jobs, changing the demography of income from middle class to lower class. Naturally, such wage-earners miss their prior wages, and so for the first time fast food, which has been a difficult market to arrange strikes and unions for, is getting some organization on walk outs.
Not that their demands are modest. One thing strikers are vocal about is getting the $7.25 minimum wage more than doubled, bringing it to a hefty $15 an hour.
That is why near the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, these workers will be picketing in 58 major cities in the U.S., stepping out during rush hour at McDonalds, Burger King, and KFC.
So far, attempts at organization have been announced in advance, giving managers the foresight to schedule around walk outs, nullifying their efficacy.
Nevertheless, more organization and intelligence is going into these strikes than ever before.
“There’s absolutely a new wave of organization action among low-wage workers across the nation,” said Paul Sonn, legal co-director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP), according the USA Today. “In the past, there was a sense it was hard to organize these low-wage industries. Now they’ve become the centerpiece of our economy.”
With the law of compensation, when more workers slip to lower-earning, with their middle-class expectations – 80 percent of workers that earn less than $10 are older than 20, and 33 percent are older than 40, according to the Economic Policy Institute – change in what is expected from employers is inevitable.
Nevertheless, what Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) says on the matter seems hopelessly quixotic: “Just like auto jobs became good middle-class jobs at the turn-of-the-century, we want to be a part of helping service work become an entry point into a new American middle class.”
Building the new gates of the middle class community out of a “Welcome to McDonald’s” front door seems unlikely, and expecting the minimum wage to not go up to $9 as President Obama has ineffectually been striving for, but up to $15, seems hopelessly quixotic, and also perhaps economically unsound.
As McDonalds has said, though it offers “affordable, high-quality food,” to raise the menu prices, “would potentially have a negative impact on employment and business growth in our restaurants, as well as on value for our customers.” In other words, higher paid workers means fewer works, as wages are a limited resource.