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Friday, Sept. 19, 2014

Want fries with that? Too bad — Largest fast-food strike ever planned for Thursday

Compiled by Lane Anderson, Deseret News National Edition

Published: Thu, Sept. 4 4:20 a.m. MDT

 Hundreds of workers, organizers, and supporters gather outside of the McDonald's Corporation Thursday, May 22, 2014, in Oak Brook, Ill., protesting for a $15 an hour wage and the right to unionize. Many minimum wage workers are planning to hold the biggest strike on Thursday, Sept. 4.

Hundreds of workers, organizers, and supporters gather outside of the McDonald's Corporation Thursday, May 22, 2014, in Oak Brook, Ill., protesting for a $15 an hour wage and the right to unionize. Many minimum wage workers are planning to hold the biggest strike on Thursday, Sept. 4.

(M. Spencer Green, Associated Press)

American fast-food workers from chains like McDonald's, Burger King and Pizza Hut will strike this Thursday. The walkout is set to be the biggest protest yet as workers battle low wages and poor benefits.

The move is the latest in a series of confrontations and lawsuits that have heated up between fast-food companies and their workers, especially as more and more of the labor force works in fast food. In 2013, 3.6 million Americans worked for fast-food chains — with 76 percent of them working in franchises, not in high-paying corporate positions, according to the Guardian.

The protests are being coordinated by local groups and national organizers like Fast Food Forward and Fight for 15, which are calling for a minimum wage of $15 an hour.

Dana Wittman, 38, is planning to strike on Thursday, and she works for Pizza Hut for $9 an hour, she told the Guardian. She just received a raise from $7.25 an hour when she was promoted to shift leader, and took on responsibilities like organizing deliveries, paperwork and cleaning up after the closing of the restaurant at night, sometimes as late as 2 a.m.

Still, she relies on government subsidies, a common complaint among fast-food workers, and last month her electricity was cut off when she couldn't pay the bill.

“The company should pay me more. I am worth more,” she told the Guardian. “They make billions a year and I don’t even get health insurance. The CEO gets health insurance."

There is speculation that Thursday's strikes may escalate. Many workers who attended the first-ever Fight for 15 convention in July expressed willingness to do "whatever it takes" to raise wages, perhaps including civil disobedience.

In a statement, Terrence Wise, a Burger King employee in Missouri and a member of the Fight for 15 national organizing committee, cited a resolution from the convention including "non-violent," peaceful protests," but also said that protesters were "prepared to take arrests to show our commitment."

The announcement for the new strike came on the heels of President Obama's Labor Day address, in which he referred to the fight of fast-food workers.

“All across the country right now, there’s a national movement going on made up of fast-food workers organizing to lift wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity,” he said.

Andrew McConnell, a McDonald's employee from Kansas City, told MSNBC that he expected the strike to be a "positive experience" that will "uplift" workers who are just joining the movement.

McConnell supports five children on his pay from McDonald's, which is $7.45 an hour, and money he makes on the side by selling Avon and LegalShield products into the wee hours of the night.

"There’s never a time I’m not working outside of McDonald’s to make ends meet,” he told MSNBC. “The check is never enough; $7.45 is never enough.”

Email: laneanderson@deseretnews.com

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1. Ironmomo
Ogden, UT,
Sept. 4, 2014

While I do sympathize with fast food worker's plight, their demands of $15.00/hr are not sustainable. Fast food jobs were never meant to be lifelong careers. Exceptions being store managers and franchise owners. FF jobs have always been introductory type jobs into the work force to give young men and women a chance to earn money, learn how to work and be responsible. What used to be the most productive and educated workforce in the world has dwindled and succumbed to overseas competition, corporate greed and nurse maid policies conceived by inept government administrations.

2. liberty or ...?
Ogden, UT,
Sept. 4, 2014

If I were manager of these restraunts my help wanted signs would be going up today with a warning to any protestor- don't show up its not excused and you will be terminated. Before people say how mean I was taught by my small business grandfather that you work an honest days labor for an honest days wage. Everyone remembers the wage part but often forgets the value of the labor portion of that saying. It is menial labor for a reason people you are not meant to make a career out of it. 6 types of people should be working these jobs
1.People just entering the workforce
2.People just getting back on their feet from a major life altering situation(i.e. death, divorce etc)
3.People working their way through school
4.People needing supplamental income not primary
5.People who have retired and want to continue to work and have secondary income
6.People going for upper management who will make a career of it but know they are working up from the bottom.
When minimum wage increases any gain is eaten up in inflation and devalues the everyone elses market wages

3. fish8
Vernal, UT,
Sept. 4, 2014

I dropped out of High School. I got facial piercings and or tatoos. I have poor social skills. I don't want to go back to school and get an education. But you should pay me $15/hr because it's not my fault.

4. Cleetorn
Fuaamotu, Tonga,
Sept. 4, 2014

A workers wage that garners twice or more than what they are getting paid now will create a fallout that will be worse than anyone might imagine. Both Europe and the Far East have maximized efficiency and profits by eliminating the workforce entirely by automating fast food – with great success. A machine can produce an order perfectly every time. It doesn’t complain about working conditions or get vindictive against “uncooperative” customers. It requires neither health, medical or other retirement benefits and doesn’t care if it has stock options.

And while automating food service may initially be expensive, the savings realized by laying off thousands of over/underpaid mostly uneducated workers that think they deserve a wage most college graduates don’t earn will WAY more than offset start-up costs.

Granted, automation lacks the “human touch” but if a business has to choose between profits and people it won’t be hard to figure out which goes first. Also, the attitude of “If I can’t get what I want, then I just won’t show up.” will doubtfully go well with employers. Be careful what you ask for. You might just get it.

5. Say No to BO
Mapleton, UT,
Sept. 4, 2014

In late 2011 Pew did a survey about socialism vs capitalism. Forty-nine percent of people in the 18-29 age bracket say they have a positive view of socialism; only 43 percent say they have a negative view.
Hence, the Occupy Movement and the $15/hour push.
They were never taught history and don't understand the dangers.
My guess is that experience will be a demanding tutor.