Fast food workers are fed up

Will Berger, Staff Assistant

If you had to wait an extra thirty seconds on line at a McDonalds last week, it probably wasn’t because your Egg McMuffin took slightly longer to solidify into a food-like substance.

On Dec. 5, fast-food workers across 100 different cities led strikes against their employers, demanding an increase in wages.  Each of these strikes, collectively organized by collaborating grassroots organizations, lasted for one day.

“The point of the one-day strike is really to show the power that workers have when they walk off their jobs and embolden more workers within the store.  That’s how we’ve been able to create essentially 12 months of momentum,” said the organizing director of Fast Food Forward, Kendell Fells to TIME magazine.

The one-day strikes last long enough to grab attention but not so long that workers lose their jobs, just as the Big Mac lasts long enough to store under a lamp for a week but not too long that the FDA has a problem with it.

The current minimum wage for New York is set at $7.40 per hour, which is approximately $15,000 a year for full time work. However, advocacy groups like the Service Employees International Union are pushing for $15 per hour, which amounts to about $30,000 each year.  The “Fight for 15,” as it is known, is also making a request to form a fast-food workers’ union. Rev. Charles Williams II, president of National Action Network, urged customers to aid in the effort. Unfortunately, fast food isn’t known for being the most energizing substance on the planet.

These strikes are truly aimed at bolstering the “living wage” movement; a group whose main “beef” is that  $7.40 an hour is not a sufficient income to live on. However, the price of fast-food is so cheap that it provides an affordable option for families that are in need. What a coincidence! The companies that aren’t paying their workers enough just so happen to sell a product that fits their workers’ budgets. So by keeping their employees poor, fast-food companies can make more money. I’m sure, if given the choice, fast-food workers would choose not to eat the same food they “prepare” every day.

A living wage seems like a completely reasonable request, especially for an industry that is as profitable as the fast-food industry, but obviously there are many opponents to this movement. A spokesman from Wendy’s announced that they are “proud to provide a place where thousands of people, who come to us asking for a job, can enter the workforce at a starting wage, gain skills and advance with us or move on to something else.”  What they fail to realize is that many people are not working in the industry as a stepping stool to a higher career; they need those jobs to support themselves in the short and long-term. Otherwise, they might have to resort to actually eating the food at Wendy’s.