On Thursday, thousands of fast food workers across the nation walked out on their shifts to protest the low wages and lack of union representation in their industry. Over the past year-plus, there has been a movement among workers in the fast food industry to push for an increase in their pay. The movement, which started in New York City in November 2012, is known as Fast Food Forward. Besides fighting for an increase in their wages, fast food workers are also looking for the right to form a union without fear of retaliation from the corporations they work for.
In addition to the protests in many major American cities, the movement has expanded globally. In countries as far-reaching as Japan, New Zealand and Great Britain, protesters gathered to express sympathy with the US workers, gathering outside McDonald’s and other fast food franchises to make their voices heard. Many of these global protests were organized by either unions or young activists.
In a show of solidarity with the striking fast food workers, the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus released statements on Thursday. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) had the following to say:
“Working people have been treated like pawns in an economic experiment long enough. It’s time they were paid what they earn and allowed to work and live with dignity. It shouldn’t matter where they live or how big their CEO’s bonus was this year. No one should work two or three jobs and still be unable to pay rent or feed a family. The rights and needs of working people are too important to wait any longer, and today’s strikes are about making that known once and for all. I’m glad to stand with them, here in the U.S. and everywhere they demand justice, and I’m looking forward to continuing this fight until working people win the economic future they deserve.”
His colleague and fellow chairman, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), released the following statement in conjunction with Grijalva’s:
“Where Congress is failing to take action to address inequality, these workers are leading the way. Their fight for $15 and a union is a shining light that will ultimately benefit all workers in the country and help lift up our economy. It’s clear this movement isn’t going to stop until fast-food companies listen to the voices of these workers, who are struggling to support families on as little as $7.25 an hour.”
Thursday’s strikes affected 150 US cities. As Fast Food Forward works closely with the Service Employees International Union, don’t think that this is going to be the last of these strikes. In December 2013, a strike was held in about 100 US cities with thousands of workers walking out. Now, it has expanded to 150 with protesters showing their support around the world. If places like McDonald’s and Burger King won’t move to provide at least close to a livable wage for their workers, then we will continue to see these protests and strikes grow larger and more frequent.