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Fast food workers strike against greed, immorality of low-wages

Jeremy Sprinkle
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They're fighting for all of us

Have you heard? Fast food workers have been staging one-day strikes in cities across the United States to demand $15 an hour from an industry that pays minimum wage but could afford to do a whole lot better by its workers and their community.

"The McDonald's wage – like any minimum wage – is basically a starvation wage," said John Mason, a professor of politics at William Paterson University in New Jersey, to The Guardian. "It effectively places you at 30% below the official poverty budget."

How inadequate is the minimum wage? Last month McDonald's teamed up with Visa to offer its employees advice on how to budget for life working in the fast food industry. What was McDonald's first piece of advice? Get a second job!

Instead, thousands of fast food workers from New York to Chicago, Kansas City, Seattle, Milwaukee, and beyond are standing up and standing together to demand $15 an hour - more than double the federal minimum of $7.25.

“Fifteen dollars an hour would be great – we’d be able to pay our living costs,” said Christopher Drumgold, 32, a father of two who earns $7.40 an hour after a year working at a McDonald’s on Seven Mile Road in Detroit, to the NY Times. “On what I’m earning right now you have to choose between paying your rent and eating the next day.”

If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation, Mr. Drumgold would be earning at least $16 an hour, a sum fast food companies like McDonald's could easily afford, says Richard Eskow with the Campaign for America's Future:

"McDonald’s makes a perfectly acceptable profit in Australia, where the minimum wage is $14.50 and workers just negotiated a 15 percent raise. Its profit margins are very high – 19.82 percent in 2012, compared with the consumer services industry average of 4.9 percent – which means that greed, not the desire for a decent return, is why it underpays its workers." -- Richard Eskow, 8/9/13

"People should be able to work hard, get by, and get ahead," said Mary Kay Henry, International President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which has supported the strikers' efforts, during her recent appearance on the Colbert Report:

"People are working hard and barely getting by, and it's wrong, and these workers are standing up for all of us, and they're gonna make these low wage jobs good jobs. Just like auto jobs became good jobs. Service jobs can become good jobs.

"Thank god for the fast food workers for standing up to make that happen." -- Mary Kay Henry, 8/7/2013

Watch SEIU President Mary Kay Henry explain to Stephen Colbert the economic benefits of turning fast-food jobs into good, middle-class jobs:

Sign SEIU's petition to tell Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, Domino’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and all fast food chains not to retaliate against employees who stand up for better pay and work conditions.