ON STRIKE! Fast food workers in Milwaukee walk off the job

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Fast-food workers walked off their jobs in dozens of cities on Thursday, May 15th — demanding a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

In Milwaukee, people gathered outside a McDonald’s restaurant on Capitol Drive on Thursday morning.

The fast food workers are also demanding the right to form a union without retaliation.

Thursday’s protest builds on protests that first launched 18 months ago.

“The Milwaukee County Board passed a living wage ordinance that’s going to guarantee county-contracted workers a fair wage. We want corporations like McDonald’s to stand up and do the right thing by their workers and guarantee all of their workers and livable wage — and safe and fair working conditions,” Jennifer Epps-Addison, the Executive Director of Wisconsin Jobs Now said.

Workers on Thursday joined strikes in 150 cities and several countries.

Nakiel Clemons went on strike outside Burger King, where he works in Durham, N.C..

Nakiel is 33 years old and has a one-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son. He earns $7.45 an hour and said he can’t survive on his meager earnings.

“I can’t worry about my manager seeing me on the strike line, I have to speak out,” said Nakiel.

In Philadelphia, Justice Wallace, a 19-year-old Subway restaurant worker also marched in the heart of the city. She earns $7.50 an hour and recently joined the National Guard to help supplement her income.

“I believe all the companies heard us today and I feel good about that,” said Wallace, who has a two-year-old daughter.

In New York, Luis Vasquez took a break to talk to CNNMoney outside a Domino’s Pizza, where strikers gathered for a midday rally.

Vasquez is 19 years old and works at a Chipotle outlet in Grand Central Station earning $9 an hour. He is the main source of income for his family, which collects food stamps and takes government help to “pay the rent.” A high school graduate, Vasquez started going to college, but had to drop out because “work got in the way.”

“What I am trying to say to companies today is share the profit … We are not asking for cars or fancy vacations, we just want to feed our families,” said Vasquez.

Currently, the median pay for fast-food workers is just over $9 an hour, or about $18,500 a year. That’s roughly $4,500 lower than the Census Bureau’s poverty threshold level of $23,000 for a family of four.

The “Fight for $15” campaign started in New York in November 2012, when 200 fast-food workers demanded $15 and the right to form a union without retaliation.

Union organizers say the movement has elevated the debate about inequality in the U.S. and helped raise the minimum wage in some states.

The movement in its current leg has also gone global. There were reports of protest marches in Tokyo, Seoul and London.

19 comments

  • Driftless

    I feel no pity for the dude making $7.45/hour. Temp services are hiring on the spot for unskilled warehouse workers for $10-12/hour. There must be a reason he’s stuck in fast food.

  • glad

    Well they complain about people living off the system if you give them a higher minimum wage it would put them over the poverty level and get them off the system the Right can’t have it both ways

    • Boom goes the dynamite

      and what happens if the restaurant owners agree to pay $15/hour?

      to offset the sudden surge in expenses they immediately will raise their prices and cut hours. business will decrease because of the drastic rise in prices and decrease in service quality leading to further decline in sales. then more hours get cut.

      people need to take responsibility for their marketable skills and learn a trade or two and then they’ll have greater earning potential and a lot more opportunities.

      but that’s not an option for the lazy obama entitlement generation.

  • john

    Gee, the government said the cost of living only went up .02%, and that was all we got on our Social Security raises. I don’t know where they should get that much of a raise.

  • ltdarkstar

    Oh and a message to the Nakiel guy in the article – WHY are you trying to raise two kids on a job like that? Either get a REAL job or don’t have kids in the first place. People are so stupid.

    • Boom goes the dynamite

      isn’t there a point in life before you hit 33 that you say to yourself, “i don’t want to be a fastfood worker anymore. it’s not rewarding, lucrative, and it’s degrading. time to reach higher.”

      • K

        I’m just gonna let you know this: Not everyone can afford to go to college. Some of us have to work our whole lives. Also think of it this way. If there wasn’t fast food workers, you wouldn’t get your dominos pizza, your big macs, your whoppers, your subs like you do. So thank us for that. My mother is in her mid 40’s, she’s an Assistant Manager at a fast food place and we can barely pay the bills and have a little left over for ourselves. She’s done a great job raise me up as an single mother working fast food my whole life. So stop it. I agree that $15 is far too high, especially from $7.25 an hour. I’d be happy with the minimum wage going up to $8 an hour. I work fast food, I’m in my 20’s, and I’m helping my mother support my 5 year old sister. Some of us weren’t born into money like everyone thinks everyone else is. Not all of us can go to college because other expensises get in the way, like LIFE, HEALTH, CAR, INSURANCE and other such things. Some of us won’t take out a loan to go to college or the sort. All of us that work fast food are aware that others concidering it degrading and believe that we’re stupid. Not all of us care because they’re not us. To some of us, it is rewarding to see the smiles we get when customers are happy with the food we make. Even if you have the perfect ingredients, you can make the worst kind of food possible. and even with the worst kind of ingredients, if you do it right, you can make the best meal ever.

  • jason

    we pay them 15.00 per hour then we pay 6.00 for a big mac the problem with this is that most people that work a skilled position don’t make 15.00 an hour but the guy or girl that makes your breakfast lunch or dinner thinks the deserve more it ain’t right. Oh and before they get any more money don’t you think they need to get the order right almost half the time they mess up your order, whats so hard about reading a screen and putting the items in the bag, but yet they still mess it up, if I mess up a shipment going over seas I would probably lose my job, but if they don’t give you your fries they keep there’s, be happy with what you have at least its a job compared to the many that don’t have one.

  • Carrie

    Fast food places are not meant to be career based jobs. The wage is for teenagers and college kids to work. The service we get right now at fast food joints is already horrible and you think your worth more, your crazy!!!!!

  • American Patriot

    Want more income? Work more hours like those who are paying taxes. 26 years old and having two kids while working at a fast food joint says a lot about the person’s intellectual capability. Even a simpleton would look for another job or take on more hours. If one is willing to work hard, regardless of education they can make mre than minimum wage. Look into a mirror rather than strike !

  • Scott Enk

    A $15 minimum hourly wage would be an improvement, but a truly just and livable one would be $22, the amount that Senator Elizabeth Warren has noted the U.S. minimum wage would be had it kept up with the growth in American workers’ productivity since 1960. Since the mid-1970s or so, and especially since 1981 or so, however, most of the gains from American workers’ growth in productivity have been stolen from us workers by the rich and business. Yes, that virtually certainly includes you. Time we take it all back, and then some in terms of interest, late charges, and punitive damages. Yes, the rich and business can well afford this.

  • diane

    I went to college got a degree and now make a decent living..I worked minimum wage pt jobs..three of them..put myself through school as a divorced mother of four..I used a food pantry on occasion..no government check for me. Over a period of five years I did this..my kids grew up fine all own their own homes..have good jobs..they do not have a criminal record…I I work in the healthcare field we just were told certain aspects of our pay is being reduced by 25% why do these people not aspire for more..work harder dream. Mcdonalds isnt a career path. Why should you make $15 when I make just a bit over $30..& now on the night shift and weekends my pay is reduced by a bit over $1.00 an hour. …IF minimum wage earners think they are worth $15. What is a college educated…hard working..20+ year experienced RN worth ..raise the minimum wage. I WOILD expect..my pay to wage accordingly…get a dream people.sacrifice…get a better job..I paid my own way crimped and saved..worked hard and studied..had a goal..and did it…yes it can be done……

    • Keith

      “get a dream people.sacrifice…get a better job”..

      SACRIFICE is a word that most people in this country know nothing about. Whether it is striving to gain a better life, or holding together a family. Today’s people are too self centered (and/or lazy) to consider the word sacrifice. Even in today’s worthless economy, there is currently an industry with a demand for over 300,000 people across the country. These positions all pay over $35,000 per year (with the potential to earn much more $60 – $70,000), and typically come with decent benefits. The employees need minimal training, however these positions remain unfilled, because of the sacrifice needed. The industry is Transportation, and the driver is the most needed position in the industry. The next time someone complains about not having the opportunity, or not making the money the “deserve” tell them to give their local Truck Driver Training School a call. There is always plenty of opportunity there.

  • Mike

    How Dumb –
    1) Protest when college and high schools are letting out for the summer and they are in need of jobs for the summer
    2) Protest for higher wages means they will need to actually try at their job and be customer friendly. 8 out of 10 times I usually get remedial service from those that don’t care to be there, but that’s the expectation sadly. Out of college kids looking for jobs will fight right into these places and care about their temp jobs. So for the consumer, I guess this is a win as we will be faced with good hard working folks and friendly faces.
    3) As everyone has posted, these are not career jobs but remedial jobs. This takes hardly any skill. Want higher wages? Go to school, don’t have kids.. Do something with your life! Why are you in mid 30s and content up to this point?
    4) This will rise up wages on other businesses that are white color that are perfect for out of college kids or those that wish to start out in a particular career.
    5) This will rise the cost of your burger and other foods but not as much as people are presuming.
    6) How many of these individuals will have the financial responsibility of saving money and doing something smart with it.

    Yes this is a general statement for this given area.

  • DB

    Get real idiots! $15 an hour to put a pickle on a bun or ask if you want fries wit dat?? Lathe operators, welders and mechanics that WENT TO SCHOOL to learn a TRADE are lucky to get that! It is a STARTER JOB at a STARTING WAGE not a full time career!

  • Jimbo Her

    Please leave those jobs to the teens…people just lazy AF…their are over 15-20 tempt company to apply…just to say i went thur temp and got a Job at Harley Davidson and believe me i made sure i did good for the 3 months cause now i can live a little better…Stop stealing our teens and college kids work…Those are starters Jobs not meant to be Careers how many of those workers are gonna make it to a Desk job for the company i say maybe 1 of 600k workers every 4-5 years or not even…stop being lazy you people are just gonna make a Influx of prices for everything to coup with raises like that….Look at Settle, 15 bucks now the cost of living is hell everything from fast food to the meat products…even McD a Big mac which is normally 6 bucks is 12.50 a meal…it’s real higher min wages bring higher cost of living…just wait til your paying 15 bucks for Cigarettes…

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