hundreds of nyc fast-food workers walk off the job, demand a living wage (plus: don't fly porter)

Hundreds of fast-food workers in New York City walked off the job this week, demanding a living wage. This is their second walkout in six months, as this exciting labour movement continues to grow.

The workers, who have organized themselves as Fast Food Forward, are a model for people throughout the US who are employed but live in poverty.

Low-wage workers in Chicago are involved in the same fight, under the banner of Worker Organizing Committee of Chicago. Both groups are calling for a $15/hour minimum wage.

The National Restaurant Association says its industry "provides more than 13 million jobs — jobs that could be jeopardized if the minimum wage goes up". So that's what they do: "provide" jobs. But workers provide the labour that keep that industry running.

And that industry has it pretty good. In non-fast-food restaurants, customers subsidize the cost of labour in the form of tips. (In the US, restaurant workers earn well below minimum wage before tips.) In the multi-billion-dollar fast-food industry, workers are expected to survive on minimum wage. In the US, that's $7.25/hour. Try living in New York or Chicago on $7.25/hour. It can't be done. Shareholders love it. As do military recruiters.

If you haven't yet signed the petitions from Fast Food Forward and WOCC, please do. Show these courageous workers you support their struggle, and tell their employers to cough up a $15/hour minimum wage.

Fast Food Forward (New York)

Fight for 15 (Chicago)

If you live or work in New York City, why not visit a picket line? You can buy a striking worker a cup of coffee, or make a donation, or just say hi and tell them you support their efforts. I'll be in town in a couple of days and I hope to report back on the strike.

Speaking of which, I was originally flying Porter, but as 22 fuellers are on strike against that airline, I cancelled my flights. If you tell Porter you stand in solidarity with the striking workers and you will not cross a picket line, they will waive the "change fee," normally $75 per person per flight (meaning the change fee for one round-trip flight is $150). If you do this, please let Porter know here.

I rebooked on Air Canada. I paid a little more, but some bargains are not worth making. Porter's credit is good for one year, so I sure hope the fuellers win their strike soon. More information: Don't Fly Porter.


Lorne said...

Thanks for the information, Laura, and congratulations on your change of airlines as a measure of solidarity with the Porter fuel handlers. If more people not only 'talked the talked' but also 'walked the walk', I suspect the corporate world would get a very strong message very quickly.

laura k said...

Thanks, Lorne. If there's one thing in life I will never do, it's cross a picket line.

However, most people don't have that consciousness. Porter has been bombarding Canadians with ads for their super-low fares, and few people understand that there's a reason to resist that.

I've read that the scab fuellers have a half-day training before they're put onto the job. There may well be safety issues.