September 5, 2014
By Neal Tepel
New York, NY – Fast-food workers—in uniforms from restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s—were arrested Thursday September 4h during a 150-city strike, as the fight for $15 and union rights intensified across the country. Thousands of cooks and cashiers walked off their jobs from more than 1,000 stores, chanting “We Believe That We Will Win,” and vowing to do whatever it takes to secure higher wages and union rights.
A campaign that started in New York City in November 2012, with 200 fast-food workers walking off their jobs demanding $15 and the right to form a union without retaliation, has since spread to every region of the country.
Workers in New York City were among the first to get arrested, after blocking traffic in front of a McDonald’s in Times Square early Thursday morning. Fast-food employees were also arrested Thursday morning in Detroit, Chicago, Las Vegas, Little Rock, and many other cities.
The movement is challenging fast-food companies’ outdated notion that their workers are teenagers looking for pocket change. Today’s employees are mothers and fathers struggling to raise children on wages that are too low. In fact, the majority of these workers are forced to rely on public assistance.
The New York City Council has now stepped up to the plate and taken on the fight for
$15 and the right for fast-food workers to join a union.
“As we stand in solidarity with workers in New York and across the nation, the New York City Council will continue to fight for New York City's right to set its own minimum wage and uplift the 50,000 fast food workers who call our City home," said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
“As we celebrate Labor Week and the contributions of workers across the country, it is with great admiration that I view the actions taken by fast food workers,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair of the City Council’s Civil Service and Labor Committee.
"The time has come for fast food and other low wage workers to be adequately compensated for the work they do," said Council Member Donovan Richards, Co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.
“Our communities of color are impoverished and while the fast-food industry offers employment opportunities, the average rate of annual pay — $11,000 –- is not a living wage,” said Council Member Andy King, co-chair of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus.