The action marked escalation by the New York Communities for Change campaign which has been leading a drive to unionise workers in an industry where unions are virtually unknown – and most workers earn an average of $8.76 an hour.
40 organises have been visiting outlets, gathering support for a new union, the Fast Food Workers’ Committee, which is not recognised by the industry.
Workers from McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and other chains joined pickets across the city, which joined up to march on the McDonald’s in Time Square. They are demanding the right to join a union and an increase in pay to $15 an hour.
In an industry where trade unionists are regularly sacked, and workers who speak out victimised or even fired, this act of defiance reflects the grinding burden of austerity.
Traditionally high-turnover and limited benefits helped undermine unionisation drives. But now, as workers are forced to take out unaffordable healthcare insurance and jobs are harder to come by, many workers are forced to stay in these so-called ‘temporary’ or ‘entry-level’ jobs, while trying to feed families or pay for education.
Coming in the wake of the Black Friday strike by Walmart workers, this latest attempt to organise low-paid workers is an inspiration for the mainly young workers in the international fast-food industry.
From meat-packing to burger-flipping, the industry relies on paying the lowest possible wages in order to secure the biggest profits for its bosses.
Forming a union is a legal right, and the most effective way for workers to fight back against the bullying, limited hours and unpaid overtime which is rife within the industry.
REVOLUTION sends its solidarity to the workers America’s biggest companies taking a stand against poverty pay and exploitation.