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.”


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

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,”

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.

more from googlenews

fight for 15 spreads to ny

¡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 aquí:  “Empleados de cadenas de comida rápida reclaman salarios dignos en Nueva York” ( | 29 Nov, 2012)

Chicago Workers in Historic “Fight for $15” Minimum Wage Action

New Food & Retail Workers Union!

Fight for 15 (Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago)

Trabajadores reclaman salario mínimo de 15 dólares por hora en IllinoisAmpliar

Unos 200 trabajadores de comercios minoristas, restaurantes de comida rápida y tiendas marcharon hoy por la avenida Michigan, la principal vía comercial de Chicago, para reclamar un salario mínimo de 15 dólares por hora y un contrato laboral. EFE

Chicago, 15 nov (EFE).- Unos 200 trabajadores de comercios minoristas, restaurantes de comida rápida y tiendas marcharon hoy por la avenida Michigan, la principal vía comercial de Chicago, para reclamar un salario mínimo de 15 dólares por hora y un contrato laboral.


“Fight for $15” Starts Today in Chicago – Retail & Fast Food Workers Organize!

via Chicago Tribune

Thursday at noon, low-wage food and retail workers will rally with supporters at St. James Cathedral in Chicago (map) to kick off a union organizing campaign and to demand that local employers boost their wages to a minimum of $15 an hour.

The minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25 an hour —  $16,500 a year; organizers say that the average retail worker wage is $9.80 an hour — $19,600 a year.  And though a 50 percent raise sounds very ambitious during these tough times, it still would only bring these workers up to $30,000 a year.

What follows is an edited version of an email Q & A  I conducted with  Zoe Bridges-Curry, spokeswoman for the coalition of groups supporting the workers:

Q. What is the agenda for Thursday’s event?

A Workers are planning to hold an 11 a.m. meeting closed to the media at which they will vote on forming a union and generate a list initial demands for that union. If they choose to vote to form a union (and that seems very likely), the plan is to then hold a press conference/rally outside the church at noon to announce the formation of the union, to give testimony about why they’re standing together to lift the wages and benefits floor in Chicago, and then to march along the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue north of the Chicago River) making announcements at their places of work about their newly formed union and demands.

Q. What is the name of the event?

The workers are unofficially calling the event the Fight for Fifteen Worker Convention. A name for the union itself will be decided on Thursday.

Q. Who are the sponsors/organizers?

A. Workers have formed a steering committee, which is the group planning the meeting. Organizers from community group Action Now have been working with and supporting the workers and, more recently, the Stand Up! Chicago coalition (of which Action Now is a member) has been providing support.

Q. Can you be more specific about who these workers are?

A. They include both retail and restaurant (fast food) employees with many of the fast food employees making minimum wage or just slightly above minimum wage. The average retail worker wage is slightly higher, around $9.80.

Q. What would a raise  to $15 a hour mean to them?

A. It would mean that they would live in neighborhoods with less crime, that their children would do better in school and have better chances for future economic security, and it would mean that their family members and neighbors would experience lower unemployment.

A minimum wage of $15 an hour would boost the economy both in the neighborhoods where workers live and throughout the city, and would be the most efficient way to address growing crime and poor student achievement.
Fifteen dollars an hour is a minimum level at which most workers can expect to be able to meet their most basic needs. Since the majority of retail and restaurant workers in the Magnificent Mile currently make much less than that, every worker has stories to tell about doing without basic necessities.

They have to make difficult choices between medicine or a doctor visit for a sick child and groceries, paying to keep the phone or electricity on or paying rent.

During the holiday season, it means that the workers who sell high-end gifts for shopping families are unable to buy gifts for their own children–or have to resort to used toys from Goodwill. Even with employee discounts, workers cannot afford to buy meals at their own workplace.

the rest of the post is at:

New Food & Retail Workers Union!

Fight for 15 (Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago)

Action Now:

Stand Up! Chicago: