“We’re out here for better wages, better working conditions, and union protection,” said one Burger King employee, adding, “There’s people my age that try to let this stabilize them. We got bills, we got rent. We’re living from check to check, hoping the next one will be better and it’s not. We can’t live on this.”
The medium wage for the USD 200 billion-dollar industry is USD 8.90 an hour and the starting wage is USD 7.25 an hour, making it the lowest for any occupation in New York City.
Many employees receive food stamps to provide for their kids. Over 50,000 people work in New York’s fast-food industry and only a few chains offer their employees benefits or health insurance.
One worker for East Harlem KFC, who asked for payment to cover lost time during Superstorm Sandy, was given a free meal instead of aid.
The strike was organized by Fast Food Forward, a movement sponsored by community and civil rights groups.
Activists say there is a situation of extreme inequality and worsening living conditions for a great number of people living in New York. The city’s unemployment rate stands at over nine percent and one-third of the workforce, over one million workers, make less than USD 11.75 an hour.
About 22 percent of people living in New York City meet the official poverty guidelines. A record number of 47,000 people including 20,000 children live in homeless shelters.
Hundreds of fast-food workers in New York have staged a protest against low wages and lack of benefits, making it the industry’s biggest strike in history.
Protesters stood outside some McDonald's and Burger King Restaurants in New York City on Thursday demanding better working conditions such as USD15 an hour wage and the right to unionize.