A fast food worker strike aimed at forcing restaurant chains to raise wages has now extended to 50 US cities.
Thousands of workers joined the protest across several cities, waving signs and chanting against restaurant chains that have let wages stagnate for years. The protests included New York City, Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis, with the protesters being advised by the Service Employees International Union.
The non-union fast food workers want the right to organize and $15 an hour, up from the $9 per hour that these workers now average. The protesters are targeting the largest chains, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King.
“What the workers are trying to do is hold the corporations accountable,” said Mary Kay Henry, SEIU president.
McDonald’s has responded to the fast food worker strike, saying it has been a good career starting point for countless workers.
“We provide training and professional development for all of those who wish to take advantage of those opportunities. Our history is full of examples of individuals who worked their first job with McDonald’s and went on to successful careers both within and outside of McDonald’s.”
Wendy’s also released a statement, saying it allows people to “enter the workforce at a starting wage, gain skills and advance with us or move on to something else.”
But economists say the fast food chains may be doing more harm that good despite their large workforce.
“These are mothers, these are fathers, these are folks who are trying to support their kids, and unfortunately when they’re paid so little, they can’t support their kids so they’re on food stamps. They’re getting government-subsidized healthcare and that means we’re subsidizing the McDonald’s and Taco Bell business model,” said Prof. Fran Quigley, IU McKinney School of Law.
The fast food worker strike may have a powerful ally. President Obama has advocated for a bump in the federal minimum wage to $9 per hour.