By Jonathan Berr
McDonald’s, Burger King , Wendy’s and their rivals can sell food inexpensively because they pay their workers low wages. That unpleasant economic reality will confront diners in eight cities later this month during a work stoppage organized by a coalition of unions and community groups.
The strike, organized to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for civil rights and Labor Day, is designed to raise awareness of the plight of workers in fast food and other low-wage industries such as retail. It’s scheduled for Aug. 29. Among the workers’ demands are a $15 per hour minimum wage and the right to form a union.
Historically, fast-food workers have been teenagers, but that’s no longer the case. The average age for these employees tops 28. Many of them have families and are forced to work two jobs to make ends meet.
“Fast food is a $200 billion a year industry and retail is a $4.7 trillion industry, yet many service workers across the country earn minimum wage or just above it and are forced to rely on public assistance programs to provide for their families and get health care for their children,” according to the AFL-CIO’s website.