Fast Food Workers Organize Global Strike for Higher Pay

Posted May 21, 2014

MP3 Interview with Erika Eichelberger, staff reporter with Mother Jones Magazine, conducted by Scott Harris

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Agitation for fair compensation by low-wage workers in the U.S. was first seen in a series of protests and strikes that began in November of 2012. Then, in the first action of its kind, over 200 fast food workers participated in a one-day strike at more than 20 chain restaurants in New York City. Now after a year-and-a-half of organizing, the movement gained visibility on the international stage, when on May 15, fast food workers conducted a one-day strike in 150 U.S. cities and 80 other cities in 30 nations around the world, such as Casablanca, London, Geneva, Sao Paulo, Seoul and San Salvador. The global action was coordinated by the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations.

Over the past 18 months, American low-wage workers at big box discount retailers like Walmart and employees at the largest fast food chains including McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy’s have organized job actions demanding a living wage and the right to join unions. Many of the protests have been organized by national and regional coalitions that include the Service Employees International Union, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and two workers committees: Fast Food Forward and Fight for 15.

Workers demanding an increase in wages to $15 an hour have succeeded influencing the national debate, with President Obama frequently calling for Congress to pass an increase in the hourly federal minimum wage to $10.10. However, the Republican-controlled House, with support from the restaurant industry, have thus far refused to vote on raising the current $7.25 minimum wage. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Erika Eichelberger, staff reporter with Mother Jones Magazine, who talks about the international fast food workers one-day strike and their demand for a living wage.

Read her recent article, "Fast-Food Strikes Go Global".

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