Friday, August 30, 2013

Fast Food Workers Strike for Better Pay and Working Conditions

By Jean Tepperman
Fri, Aug 30, 2013 at 10:41 AM

Around one hundred East Bay fast food workers from Fremont to Richmond participated Thursday in a national one-day strike calling for a living wage of $15 an hour and the right to form unions without retaliation. Workers in at least fifty cities across the country walked off their jobs at a range of fast-food restaurants including McDonald’s, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and more.

In three Oakland rallies during the day, hundreds of union members and other supporters joined the striking workers to protest their low wages and poor working conditions. Supporters included Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, Oakland City Councilwoman Pat Kernighan, and Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle.

Fast food workers held a one-day strike in fifty cities
  • Eyes of New York/Flickr(CC)
  • Fast food workers held a one-day strike in fifty cities
Two BART workers, fresh from a strike earlier this month, spoke at the final gathering of the day, in the parking lot of a McDonald’s on Heggenberger Road. Dominic Ware, a former Walmart worker who said he was fired for his leadership in the national Walmart workers’ organization, compared the movement of retail and fast food workers to the civil rights March on Washington fifty years ago: “That was a march on Washington, this is a march on corporate America. We’re all being Doctor King right now.”

Jack in the Box worker Consuela told the rally in Spanish that although she has worked in the restaurant for eight years, she doesn’t make enough to support herself and her son.

Jason Hughes, who makes $8.25 an hour working for a McDonald’s in Fremont, said, “I want to be able to support myself and my family. Most of all, my 14-year-old brother — when he starts working I want him to be able to make $15 an hour. I’m in this fight until we win, if it takes five, ten, or twenty years.”

In an interview after the rally, Hughes said he had co-founded an organizing committee of East Bay fast food workers who plan to continue their movement. The purpose of the one-day strike, he said, was “to open the public’s eyes — the public is supporting these corporations.”

Meanwhile on Friday, 180 fast-food and retail workers at the Oakland Airport went on strike to protest what they say are unfair labor practices by their employer, Host International. A statement from thee union, Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 2850, described management’s latest offer in their year-long contract negotiations as an attempt to reduce benefits including vacation and sick days, pensions, health care, and overtime pay.

In a statement responding to the one-day strike, McDonald’s said: “The story promoted by the individuals organizing these events does not provide an accurate picture of what it means to work at McDonald’s.”

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