NYC Fast Food Workers Strike: ‘They’re Not Paying Us Enough To Survive’

Originally published: November 29, 2012
Updated: November 30, 2012 at 3:15 pm
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Workers at some fast food restaurants in the New York City area walked off the job on Thursday.

After a Black Friday action at Wal-Mart, NYC fast-food workers walk out, challenging a nearly union-free industry, Salon reports. The chains involved are McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC, Domino’s, Taco Bell and Papa John’s.

Why are the workers walking out?

“They’re not paying us enough to survive,” 21-year-old McDonald’s worker Raymond Lopez tells Salon. “This company has enough money to pay us a reasonable amount for all that we do … they’re just not going to give it to us as long as they can get away with it.”

Lopez, who’s been at McDonald’s for two years, said he makes $8.75 an hour as a shift manager, which according to the union organizers is not a management position. He works at McDonald’s and holds two other jobs – catering and doing leaf work – while paying off student loans, pursuing an acting career, and helping to support his family.

“Everything we do needs to be fast, needs to be perfect,” said Lopez, and “when you’re actually there for eight hours smiling like you’re on the Miss Universe contest, it’s not easy.” He said McDonald’s supervisors “make us work off the clock all of the time” and “there is a lot of verbal abuse.” Lopez recalled a supervisor telling him, “Hey, if you don’t want me to treat you this way, then give me what I want.’”

Strikers are hoping to unionize and get wages raised to $15 an hour, Steven Greenhouse at The New York Times reports.

Labor issues have been squarely in the spotlight lately, with the Hostess bankruptcy claiming thousands of jobs and the Black Friday action at Wal-Mart.

Strikes in fast food are rare, since the industry is almost entirely bereft of unions.

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