Fast Food Forward, the group that organised protests in New York City, stated “No one can survive on $7.25 (per hour).” They’re correct — especially when one takes the cost of living in a large metropolitan area into consideration.
Across the country a couple of weeks ago, protesters gathered outside a host of fast-food restaurants to take part in a one day strike that called for higher wages for fast food workers. At the time, the strike was part of what some hoped could become a growing movement that would spread to many more cities. The group, whose goal of increasing the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour, is supported by organised labour and activists across the country to focus on the nation’s growing wealth and income disparity across all age groups.
Tomorrow, 35 cities are expected to join the protest but with 2.4 million fast food workers across the country, the number of participants expected is still far too low to have the wide-reaching impact the group seeks. Contrary to what many have been led to believe, the fast food industry is not comprised solely of teenagers working after school jobs; the average age of a fast food worker is 29 years old.
Times are hard for far too many. Despite good economic news in terms of Wall Street’s record profits, improved housing sales and values, and even a decline in the number of unemployment claims filed, the upticks in the economy have yet to trickle down to the front-line workers. According to the Economic Policy Institute, CEO salaries are now at 273 times the pay of the average worker, up from 20 times in 1965.
The strike is not just about a fight for fair wages. It’s also about the right to form unions and have adequate representation for good benefits and health care. The benefits are numerous; increasing pay for fast food and other minimum wage workers will have a positive ripple effect on the nation’s economy in that the increase will not only help them survive through this still challenging economy, but it will also give boost the economy by creating jobs that are naturally generated as people have greater financial resources to purchase necessary services and goods.
President Obama toured several states recently to present ‘state of the economy’ speeches. During one of those speeches he mentioned middle class and mobility. If these workers don’t continue to fight, and if those of us who are fortunate enough to not be in the postiion of haivng to protest for a liveable wage don’t support them, we may find that we all end up in the same ‘have nots’ boat.
Original image source: CNN Money