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Latest News - December 2014

November 29, 2014
Fast-Food Workers Fighting for Higher Wages Plan Strike
Craig Giammona

Fast-food workers in dozens of U.S. cities are planning to walk off the job next week as they continue pushing for higher wages and union rights.

Workers at fast-food restaurants in 160 cities will strike Dec. 4 in their latest attempt to pressure companies including McDonald’s Corp. (MCD:US), Burger King Worldwide Inc. and Wendy’s Co. to pay employees at least $15 an hour and let them unionize, organizers said.

In September, fast-food workers blocked traffic and were arrested at demonstrations across the country as the “Fight for $15” movement sought to raise its profile. More than 3 million workers prepare and serve food in the U.S., and they make $9.08 an hour on average, according to government data. The strike planned for next week, expected to be the largest since the movement began two years ago, will highlight the plight of low-paid workers in the industry, said Kendall Fells, an organizing director in New York with Fast Food Forward, a coalition funded by the Service Employees International Union.

“The attention it draws will give these workers a platform to tell their stories,” he said in a phone interview. “Two years ago people said these fast-food workers were crazy for wanting $15. Now Americans are paying attention.”

The planned job action is not a “strike,” but rather “organized rallies for which demonstrators are transported to various locations and are often paid for their participation,” Heidi Barker, a spokeswoman for Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald’s, said in statement.

Wage Increase

“McDonald’s and our independent franchisees support paying our valued employees fair wages aligned with a competitive marketplace,” Barker wrote in an e-mail. “We believe that any minimum wage increase should be implemented over time so that the impact on owners of small- and medium-sized businesses -- like the ones who own and operate the majority of our restaurants -- is manageable.”

Burger King (BKW:US), meanwhile, said it “respects the rights of all workers.”

“For decades, Burger King restaurants have provided an entry point into the workforce for millions of workers, including many of the system’s franchisees who began their careers working at local Burger King restaurants,” Alix Salyers, a spokeswoman for the Miami-based company, said in an e-mail.

Wendy’s, based in Dublin, Ohio, didn’t respond to a request for comment.



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