Fast Food Strike: Walkout In 270 Cities Over $15 Minimum Wage

Fast Food Strike Update – Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Fight for $15 director Kendall Fells said the $15 minimum wage activists are “putting politicians on notice” stating that they will be held accountable for the actions taken regarding the hourly wage, USA Today reports.

Fast food workers are on strike in 270 cities over their $15 minimum wage demands. The walkout began at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning.

There are approximately 64 million low-wage workers in the United States, according to a USA Today report. Tuesday’s strike kicks off a year-long campaign to muster the political power of those 64 million low-wage workers in next year’s presidential election.

The fast food strike is reportedly the largest demonstration by minimum wage workers to take place in three years. Activists feel that workers should be able to earn a living wage, and big companies such as Walmart and McDonald’s can afford to pay the higher wages. Opponents of the wage hike typically point out that while a $15 minimum wage in large cities might not harm massive corporations, it will cause price increases and layoffs at medium and small businesses around the country – especially in rural areas.

A $15 minimum wage increase would mean that fast food workers would be earning as much as a beginning teacher, skilled tradesman, or professionally trained office staff in rural areas where the cost of living is much lower. Those opposed to the demands of fast food workers often state that jobs flipping burgers were never intended as a long-term career choice designed to support a family, but as positions for high school and college kids, or folks who want to work part-time to earn a little extra cash for the family or to boost their retirement income.

The fast food strike is backed by the Service Employees International Union – SEIU. Tens of thousands of minimum wage workers are expected to participate in the Tuesday 270 cities walkout. Striking workers carrying signs in front of fast food chains were spotted just after dawn in Philadelphia, Boston, and New York City.

Similar protests have been organized in another 700 cities by “low-paid” FedEx, nursing home, home care, farm, and child care workers.

“It’s not just the financial piece, it’s also about the dignity,” Logan Airport (Boston) worker and mother of seven, Kheila Cox, 38, said about her reasons for joining a protest march later today. She reportedly earns $10 per hour as a baggage handler.

This fast food walkout, unlike the previous attempts to garner support for the $15 minimum wage cause, is reportedly placing an emphasis on the political aspect of the issue. Workers will march to local city halls around the country later this afternoon with a massive protest planned outside of the Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee later tonight.

Most of the Republican candidates opposed raising the federal minimum wage above the current $7.25 per hour, the USA Today report notes. Hillary Clinton stated recently that she supports a $12 federal minimum wage. Both Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley support the $15 minimum wage the fast food employees and the Fight for $15 group are demanding, ABC 6 Action News Philadelphia reports.

A National Employment Law Project (NELP) survey revealed that many unregistered voters said they would “be more likely” to sign up to vote to show support for a presidential candidate that supported a $15 minimum wage. Approximately 48 million Americans have not exercised their right to vote, a freedom that untold millions around the world have been begging to possess for decades.

“People are going to be looking for that in a candidate” and will vote for politicians “that are responsive to their economic well-being,” Christine Owens, the executive director of NELP, said.

The Fight for $15 movement began in New York City in November 2012. The cities of Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco ultimately decided to raise their minimum wage to $15, and some companies, including Target, Walmart, and McDonalds, have voluntarily increased wages as well.

What do you think about the fast food workers strike and the possibility of a $15 minimum wage?

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