Democracy Now Reports on New York Fast Food Workers Struggle VIDEO

Democracy Now! was there when workers at dozens of restaurants owned by McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell and others went on strike Thursday and rallied in a bid for fair pay and union recognition. Organizers with the Fast Food Forward campaign are seeking an increased pay rate of $15 an hour, about double what the minimum-wage workers are making. Workers and their allies demanded a wage that would let them support their families. Martyna Starosta filed this report.

http://www.democracynow.org/2012/11/30/hundreds_of_fast_food_workers_strike

Fast-food workers walked off the job in New York City Thursday to hold a series of rallies and picket lines in what has been called the largest series of worker actions ever to hit the country’s fast-food industry. Hundreds of workers at dozens of restaurants owned by McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell and others went on strike and rallied in a bid for fair pay and union recognition. Organizers with the Fast Food Forward campaign are seeking an increased pay rate of $15 an hour, about double what the minimum-wage workers are making. Workers and their allies demanded a wage that would let them support their families. Democracy Now! co-host Juan González spoke to many of the striking workers for his latest New York Daily News column, “One-day strike by fast-food workers at McDonald’s, Burger King and other restaurants is just the beginning.” [includes rush transcript]

http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2012/11/30/video_on_strike_fast_food_workers_in_nyc_call_for_right_to_unionize

No One Owes You A McRestaurant…..

“When a restaurant/hospitality worker complains about not making a living, they are often told things like “no one is forcing you to work in a restaurant” or “it is your choice where you work” or “you just need to improve your working skills to make your work product more valuable and businesses will pay you more” or sometimes even “no one owes you a living.”

You see and hear comments like that all the time.

Why doesn’t that apply to business? Aren’t you choosing to run a restaurant? If the margins are so low in food, why don’t you open a bank or a gold mine? It’s your choice you know. Or maybe if you just brush up on your entrepreneurial skills you can think of a better business to invest your capital in. How about “no one owes you a restaurant?”

I am not trying to be harsh, but I am applying the same logic and the same free market analysis to you as a business owner that is often applied to the working poor”

http://humboldtherald.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/nyc-fast-food-workers-strike-for-higher-pay/

VIDEO from Chicago – Fight For 15

While boisterous protests targeted Chicago-area Walmarts Friday, a new local union formed in mid-November coordinated a second wave of actions calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour, well beyond a gradual statewide increase to $10.55 that may be approved next year.

The Illinois minimum wage is currently $8.25 per hour.

The activities were part of the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago’s “Fight for 15” campaign. The committee says it already includes employees at more than 100 businesses. After supporting the Walmart rallies, committee members marched down Michigan Avenue and rallied both outside and inside Water Tower Place.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-v-santore/illinois-minimum-wage-protests_b_2204531.html

Josh Eidelson On Fight for 15 in New York and Chicago

“NYC isn’t the only place fast food workers are in revolt. Today’s strike follows a founding convention held earlier this month by an linked organization, the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago. WWOC claims 200-some members in fast food and retail. Its most dramatic actions took place on Black Friday, when workers leafleted and demonstrated at major companies and dropped a banner inside of Macy’s (they also joined pickets in support of local Wal-Mart workers). “We’re getting all the workers together and we’re standing up against CEOs,” said WOCC member Brittney Smith. “Because there’s more workers than there are CEOs.” Smith, a college student who recently quit her job at the retail chain Express and took a similar job at American Apparel, said she now makes $8.75 an hour. “Some of the time I luck out and I can eat two meals a day,” she said. “But most of the time, I’m eating one.”

Like FFWC in New York, WOCC is a new independent union made up of workers tied together by a shared city and similarly low wages, not a single employer. Both FFWC and WOCC are backed by unions and labor community groups, and so far aren’t recognized by any employers. And they’re making the same demands: allow a fair process for unionization and start paying $15 an hour. Organizers say that could be achieved through union contracts with individual companies, or through joint bargaining with several employers at once. Either way, it’s a heavy lift.

The New York and Chicago campaigns evoke two strategies that have been long debated but infrequently attempted in U.S. labor. First, “minority unionism”: mobilizing workers to take dramatic actions and make demands on management prior to showing support from the majority of employees. Second, “geographic organizing”: collaboration between multiple unions to organize workers at several employers and win public support for raising a region’s standards through unionization. This campaign is also the latest example in which community-based organizing groups, which unions have long leaned on to drum up support for workers, are playing a major role in directly organizing workers to win union recognition.”

http://www.salon.com/2012/11/29/in_rare_strike_nyc_fast_food_workers_walk_out/singleton/

American Families Are Poorer Than They’ve Been In Four Decades

American Families Are Poorer Than They’ve Been In Four Decades

Bruce Watson, DailyFinance|Nov. 29, 2012, 8:38 AM|1,522|10

Now, a recent study by New York University economics professor Edward N. Wolff has put the decline of the American middle class in a whole new perspective: According to Wolff’s calculations, the median net worth of American households has now reached a 43-year low of $57,000 (in 2010 dollars).   According to Wolff, between 1983 and 2010, the percentage of households with less than $10,000 in assets rose from 29.7 percent to 37.1 percent. (And yes, that “less than $10,000″ figure includes the many households with no assets at all, or “negative assets” — what we in the non-academic world just call debt.)   Where did all the money go? Over the same period, the richest 1 percent of households increased their average wealth by 71 percent.

Read more: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/11/28/median-family-wealth-is-at-a-43-year-low-study-finds/

Fight for $15 Spreads to New York – McJobs Should Pay, Too

McJobs Should Pay, Too: It’s Time for Fast-Food Workers To Get Living Wages

By Sarah Jaffe

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/11/mcjobs-should-pay-too-its-time-for-fast-food-workers-to-get-living-wages/265714/

As low-wage service jobs become the new normal for millions of families, it’s time to rethink the balance of power between fast-food workers and their corporations

The term “McJob” has come to epitomize all that’s wrong with the low-wage service industry jobs that are growing part of the U.S economy. “It beats flipping burgers,” the cliché goes, because no matter what your job might be, it’s assumed to be better than working in a fast-food restaurant.

Today in New York City, though, hundreds of workers at dozens of fast-food chain stores are walking out on strike, demanding better of those jobs. At McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, Taco Bell, and Domino’s Pizza locations, workers have been organizing, and today they launch their campaign. They want a raise, to $15-an-hour from their current near-minimum wage pay, and recognition for their independent union, the Fast Food Workers Committee.

Saavedra Jantuah, who works at a Burger King on 34th St. in Manhattan, explained that the $7.30 she makes per hour after two years on the job doesn’t pay her enough to support her son. “I’m doing it for him, I’m going on strike so I can bring my family together underneath one household,” she said. “A union can help us get to where we can make it in New York.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that seven out of 10 growth occupations over the next decade will be low-wage fields. And these jobs are not being done by teenagers. Across the country, the median age of fast-food workers is over 28, and women — who make up two-thirds of the industry — are over 32, according to the BLS.

Fast food weathered the recession, and the biggest names are seeing big profits. Yum! Brands, which runs Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC, saw profits up 45 percent over the last four fiscal years, and McDonald’s saw them up 130 percent. (After Walmart, Yum! Brands and McDonald’s are the second and third-largest low-wage employers in the nation.)

read the rest of the artlicle at link above….

In rare strike, NYC fast-food workers walk out

After a Black Friday action at Wal-Mart, NYC fast-food workers walk out, challenging a nearly union-free industry

By Josh Eidelson

At 6:30 this morning, New York City fast food workers walked off the job, launching a rare strike against a nearly union-free industry. Organizers expect workers at dozens of stores to join the one-day strike, a bold challenge to an industry whose low wages, limited hours and precarious employment typify a growing portion of the U.S. economy.

New York City workers are organizing at McDonald’s, Burger King, Domino’s, KFC, Taco Bell, Wendy’s and Papa John’s. Organizers expect today’s strike to include workers from almost all of those chains, with the largest group coming from McDonald’s; the company did not respond to a request for comment.

But employees were clear about their reasons for walking out. “They’re not paying us enough to survive,”

http://www.salon.com/2012/11/29/in_rare_strike_nyc_fast_food_workers_walk_out/singleton/

Striking fast food workers and supporters rally in front of a midtown Manhattan McDonald's. Early morning, November 29, 2012.

attribution: Laura Clawson

Hundreds of New York City fast food workers are staging a one-day strike against many of the biggest fast food chains, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, Taco Bell, Domino’s, Papa John’s. The attempt to organize dozens of fast food restaurants within a single city is something new, a big step beyond efforts to go restaurant by restaurant, and Steven Greenhouse reports that the campaign has 40 full-time organizers.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/29/1165629/-Hundreds-of-New-York-City-fast-food-workers-strike

more from googlenews http://urlet.com/intelligent.makes

fight for 15 spreads to ny  http://fightfor15.org/2012/11/30/nyc-workers-join-the-fight-for-15/

¡La lucha por $15 dólares la hora se está expandiendo más allá de Chicago! Ayer, el Comité de trabajadores de Comida Rápida marcharon para exigir un salario digno. En alianza con Comunidades para el Cambio de New York, los trabajadores de los restaurantes McDonald’s, Burger King, Domino’s, KFC, Taco Bell, Wendy’s and Papa John’s se están organizando. Lee todo sobre la protesta que realizaron nuestros compañeros y compañeras trabajadores de New York en este articulo de expansion.com aquí:  “Empleados de cadenas de comida rápida reclaman salarios dignos en Nueva York” (Expansion.com | 29 Nov, 2012)

http://fightfor15.org/2012/11/30/nyc-workers-join-the-fight-for-15/#espanol

FDR Quotes on Minimum Wage

“No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country”

FDR

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting. ”

FDR

“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another.  But above all, try something..”

FDR

“But while they prate of economic laws, men and women are starving. We must lay hold of the fact that economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings.”

FDR

“I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”

FDR

“The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little.”

FDR

“There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.”

FDR

“One thing is sure. We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment. If it doesn’t turn out right, we can modify it as we go along.”

FDR

Franklin Roosevelt: Message to Congress on Establishing Minimum Wages and Maximum Hours

May 24, 1937

“Today, you and I are pledged to take further steps to reduce the lag in the purchasing power of industrial workers and to strengthen and stabilize the markets for the farmers’ products. The two go hand in hand. Each depends for its effectiveness upon the other. Both working simultaneously will open new outlets for productive capital. Our Nation so richly endowed with natural resources and with a capable and industrious population should be able to devise ways and means of insuring to all our able-bodied working men and women a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.   A self-supporting and self-respecting democracy can plead no justification for the existence of child labor, no economic reason for chiseling workers’ wages or stretching workers’ hours.  Enlightened business is learning that competition ought not to cause bad social consequences which inevitably react upon the profits of business itself. All but the hopelessly reactionary will agree that to conserve our primary resources of man power, government must have some control over maximum hours, minimum wages, the evil of child labor and the exploitation of unorganized labor.”

A Message from FDR about the Living Wage

After many requests on my part the Congress passed a Fair Labor Standards Act, what we call the Wages and Hours Bill. That Act –applying to products in interstate commerce — ends child labor, sets a floor below wages and a ceiling over hours of labor.

Except perhaps for the Social Security Act, it is the most far-reaching, the most far-sighted program for the benefit of workers ever adopted here or in any other country. Without question it starts us toward a better standard of living and increases purchasing power to buy the products of farm and factory.

Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000.00 a day, who has been turning his employees over to the Government relief rolls in order to preserve his company’s undistributed reserves, tell you — using his stockholders’ money to pay the postage for his personal opinions — tell you that a wage of $11.00 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry. Fortunately for business as a whole, and therefore for the Nation, that type of executive is a rarity with whom most business executives most heartily disagree.

Franklin Roosevelt’s Fireside Chat, June 24, 1938

http://www.mhrcc.org/fdr/chat13.html

See also this Daily Kos article for deeper quotes:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/07/24/1113260/-FDR-on-Wages-Economics-Political-Fights-Human-Rights

New Chicago Union Fights for $15.00 Minimum Wage

Local union calls for $15 hourly wage while national campaign targets Walmart

Nov 27,

While boistrous protests targeted Chicago-area Walmarts Friday, a new local union formed in mid-November coordinated a second wave of actions calling for an increase in minimum wage to $15 per hour, well beyond a gradual statewide increase to $10.55 that may be approved next year.

The activities were part of the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago’s “Fight for 15″ campaign. The Committee says it already includes employees at more than 100 businesses. After supporting the Walmart rallies, Committee members marched down Michigan Avenue and rallied both outside and inside Water Tower Place.

http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=211613

see our earlier post on fight for 15 here http://eurekafairwageact.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/chicago-workers-in-historic-fight-for-15-minimum-wage/

http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=211613

Restore the Purchasing Power of the Minimum Wage

this article by Charles Hugh Smith, for the rest of it go to

http://www.oftwominds.com/blogmay12/restore-min-wage5-12.html

Actually, it’s easily addressed with one simple act: restore the minimum wage to its 1969 level, and adjust it for the inflation that has been officially under-reported.If you go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator and plug in $1.60 (the minimum wage in 1969 when I started working summers in high school) and select the year 1969, you find that in 2012 dollars the minimum wage should be $10 per hour if it were to match the rate considered “reasonable” 43 years ago, when the nation was  significantly less wealthy and much less productive.

The current Federal minimum wage is $7.25, though states can raise it at their discretion. State rates runs from $7.25 to $8.25, with Washington state the one outlier at $9.04/hour.

In 40 years of unparalleled wealth and income creation, the U.S. minimum wage has declined by roughly a third in real terms.“Official” measures of inflation have been gamed and massaged for decades to artificially lower the rate, for a variety of reasons: to mask the destructiveness to purchasing power of Federal Reserve policy, to lower the annual cost-of-living increases to Social Security recipients, and to generally make inept politicians look  more competent than reality would allow.

The full extent of this gaming is open to debate, but let’s assume inflation has been under-reported by about 1% per year for the past two decades.  That would suggest the minimum wage should be adjusted upward by about 20%, from $10 to $12/hour.

All those claiming such an increase will destroy the nation (or equivalent hyperbole) need to explain how the nation survived the prosperous 1960s paying the equivalent of  $10-$12/hour in minimum wage. Exactly what has weakened the economy such that the lowest paid workers must bear the brunt of wage cuts?

Charles Hugh Smith

http://www.oftwominds.com/blogmay12/restore-min-wage5-12.html

NDWA Releases First Ever National Statistical Survey of Domestic Workers

via NELP http://www.nelp.org/blog/entry/ndwa_releases_first_ever_national_statistical_survey_of_domestic_workers/

NDWA Releases First Ever National Statistical Survey of Domestic Workers

NDWA Releases First Ever National Statistical Survey of Domestic Workers

The National Domestic Workers’ Alliance has released a new report, titled Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work, the first national survey of domestic workers in the USA.

This empirically based and representative picture of domestic employment in 21st century America breaks new ground by providing an empirically based and representative picture of domestic employment in 21st century America. The report surveyed over 2,000 domestic workers on issues including pay rates, benefits, and their impact on the lives of workers and their  families; employment arrangements and employers’ compliance with employment    agreements; workplace conditions, on-the-job injuries, and access to health care; and abuse at work and the ability to remedy substandard conditions.

Not surprisingly, the report found that substandard working conditions are pervasive in the domestic work industry. Wage rates are low, the work is often hazardous, and workers rarely have effective recourse to improve substandard conditions.

The report was prepared with support from the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Chicago and the DataCenter.