Fast food workers are seeking wage hikes and union representation. Thousands of fast food workers and other low-wage earners from all over the United States met on Friday in a small town just outside of Chicago to discuss wage hikes and union representation. In the last two years, several cities have hosted fast food worker meetings and conventions to discuss plans for increased wages and union involvement. A few cities have granted fast food workers wage increases. Some workers are now making as much as $15 an hour.
Mary Kay Henry, the president of the Service Employees International Union, spoke at the Villa Park, Illinois convention Friday night. Over 2000 workers listened to her as she said that 2 million SEIU members would support their efforts for higher wages and unionization. In 2012, one group of 200 workers met in one city to talk about wage increases. In the last two years, thousands of low-wage earners have met all across the country to talk about job issues. Henry also talked about a recent strike, in May, that affected fast food restaurants in 150 cities across the USA.
Mary Coleman works in A Popeye’s fast food in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While working the night shift, she asked her manager for a change in hours to the day shift. She was denied and later sanctioned. Coleman was told there were no day hours available, but a few days later, five new workers were hired and all were given day jobs. At the same time, Coleman’s hours were cut down to two days a week and that is not enough to live on, she said.
A study was conducted at the University of Chicago by the Employment Instability, Family Well-being and Social Policy Network, 46 percent of the women that took part in the study said their employers determine their work schedules without any feedback from them. Seventy percent of the women reported work fluctuations monthly, their hours changed from week to week. They will not speak up due to the possibility of termination. Female fast food workers are hoping that studies like this and organizations like Henry’s SEIU will facilitate wage hikes and union representation in the near future.
Many women have given up but Mary Coleman has decided to do something to help herself and her fellow workers. Coleman is a member of Wisconsin Jobs Now. She is asking the federal government to act on behalf of subjugated low-wage workers to help prevent job retaliation and unfair job scheduling practices. She was quick to point out that a lot of her coworkers were recently fired for speaking up for themselves.
President Obama is trying to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Recently, the Seattle City Council agreed to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next few years. When questioned about this, a spokesman for McDonalds refused to comment. The National Restaurant Association said that a wage hikes to $15 an hour would be devastating to many businesses. In fact, several would have to close their doors. Last year, McDonalds CEO John Thompson was given a payroll package equivalent to $9.5 million. Meanwhile, Mary Kay Henry and her SEIU members will continue the fight for union representation and wage hikes for fast food workers and other low-wage earners.
By Dennis De Rose