Four hundred fast food workers in New York struck and demonstrated on 4 April to demand a $15/hour minimum wage.
The strike involved workers at McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, and other multinational fast food chains.
Naquasia Legrand, a KFC worker, said low pay in the fast food industry forced workers to make impossible choices: “You have to decide whether to feed your family or get a Metrocard so you can go to work. Or you have to choose between paying your rent or feeding your child”.
The strike was part of the Fast Food Forward (FFW) campaign, an initiative of the Service Employees International Union and involving various working-class community organisations and other labour movement bodies. FFW is one of a number of similar worker-organising campaigns that have emerged recently in America, led and shaped by unions but employing a more creative range of strategies than traditional recruitment campaigns. They particularly target low-paid, hyper-exploitative jobs in the retail and service sector. Fast food workers previously struck in November, following strikes by Walmart employees on “Black Friday”, the busiest shopping day in the US calendar.
Jonathan Westin, director of FFW said: “The fastest growing jobs in the United States are also the lowest paid. Fast food workers are paid between $10,000 and $18,000 each year, less than half what it costs to support a family in our city … McDonald’s and Burger King are part of a $200 billion industry.
“They should pay their hard-working employees enough to cover the necessities and support their families.”