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National Fast Food Workers Strike for Living Wages

Fast food workers are no longer fighting their battles alone. Various groups, including union organizers and religious groups, are calling for fast food workers across the nation to walk off their jobs together.

(Photo Credit: laudu/Flickr)

Could a nationwide strike make a difference in the low pay of fast food workers? The events of Thursday, August 29, 2013 may help answer this question. 

CNN reports that a public relations agency that includes the Service Employees International Union and United Food & Commercial Workers as clients, United Auto Workers, the Presbyterian Church USA, individual churches and synagogues like St. John's Catholic Church of St. Louis, and some members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, including Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison are all calling for the nationwide strike of fast food workers. That is a lot of backing. 

Workers striking at one place of business creates, at best, inconvenience and embarrassment for the employer. At worst, it threatens to put the employer out of business if said employer does not comply with worker demands.

The beauty of a nationwide strike is that it makes customers unable to ignore the issue. When workers at one large chain location strike, customers who just want their cheap burger go to the store a few blocks away. With any luck, a nationwide strike will successfully make this impossible. 

With so much on the line, the battle could turn nasty. Earlier this month, eight fast food workers and community activists were arrested for civil disobedience in Seattle. They set up a sit-down picket in front of a McDonald's and refused to disperse. They were protesting criminal wage theft: refusal of owners of the McDonald's franchise at 3rd and Pike in downtown Seattle to pay legally required overtime wages. The victims of wage theft were the ones arrested. Goldy, writing for Seattle blog The Stranger, does a nice job of pointing out the irony. 

The city of Seattle is planning an ambitious day. Anna Minard at The Stranger reports: 

Striking workers are gathering downtown in Westlake Park at 7 a.m. Thursday morning, and will be converging again at 4 p.m. at Pike Street and Boren Avenue, with strike lines outside fast-food restaurants lasting all day and into the night.

Perhaps the rest of us can live without fast food for a day and, while we eat our brown-bag lunches, we can consider the right of every worker to earn a living wage.

Tell Us What You Think

Would you pay more for fast food if you knew it was to provide living wages to employees? Leave us a comment or join the conversation on Twitter.

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