Hundreds of New York City’s fast food workers go on strike
A girl holds a sign in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem during a protest by fast food workers and supporters for higher wages in New York, on April 4, 2013.
Fri Apr 5, 2013
Hundreds of fast-food workers in New York have staged a protest against low wages and lack of benefits.
On Thursday, protesters stood outside New York City restaurants including Yum Inc's KFC, McDonald's and Burger King demanding better working conditions such as USD15 an hour wage.
The protesters chanted slogans such as “Can’t survive on $7.25.”
“We help them earn those billions of dollars that give them the lifestyle that the CEOs get. They earn million-dollar paychecks, so why can't they give us something that we can live on?,” said a protester during the rally.
The medium wage for the USD 200 billion-dollar industry is USD 8.90 an hour and the starting wage is USD 7.25 an hour, making it the lowest for any occupation in New York City.
Many employees receive food stamps to provide for their kids. Over 50,000 people work in New York’s fast-food industry and only a few chains offer their employees benefits or health insurance.
One worker for East Harlem KFC, who asked for payment to cover lost time during Superstorm Sandy, was given a free meal instead of aid.
The strike was organized by Fast Food Forward, a movement sponsored by community and civil rights groups.
During the protest, Jonathan Westin the director of Fast Food Forward issued a statement saying that “What happened today sends a big message to a multibillion fast-food industry that this thing is not going away…We’re going to continue fighting for living wages and the right to organize. ... People deserve more than living in poverty.”
Activists say there is a situation of extreme inequality and worsening living conditions for a great number of people living in New York. The city’s unemployment rate stands at over nine percent and one-third of the workforce, over one million workers, make less than USD 11.75 an hour.
About 22 percent of people living in New York City meet the official poverty guidelines. A record number of 47,000 people including 20,000 children live in homeless shelters.