Across the nation, a growing number of fast food workers are joining the fight to demand the right to organize and be paid a $15 an hour minimum wage. On May 15, that struggle went worldwide.
On that day, fast food workers in Pennsylvania joined workers in 250 cities in 33 different nations to stand up and demand that their hard work in building what is a multi-billion dollar global industry be recognized with a living wage. Even fast food workers in countries’ like Denmark, who actually pay their workers a decent wage and benefits, joined the fight, asking why their brothers and sisters in other First World countries are working full time but living in poverty.
While fast food companies’ revenue and profit continue to grow (McDonald’s recorded more than $28 billion in revenue for 2013), the median pay for fast food workers continues to stagnate at just over $9 an hour. That comes to a little more than $18,000 a year, significantly lower than the poverty line. What’s more, raising the wage for fast food workers would make a negligible impact on the industry’s bottom line. While anti-worker groups claim that fast food prices will sky-rocket, in reality, workers’ wages has little to do with the cost of the food they sell. As a Forbes contributor pointed out:
“… a doubling of, or a halving of, or any other change in, the wages of McDonald’s workers will have absolutely no effect whatsoever on the price of a Big Mac or the dollar menu. For prices are not set by the cost of production of something, but by the supply and demand for that item.”
Raising the wage would, however, have a tremendous impact on our economy and the budget. The fast food industry’s insistence on keeping its workers’ wages down costs the American taxpayers $7 billion a year in public assistance. A living wage for fast food workers would also mean tremendous gains to the economy and to tax revenue.
On May 21, hundreds of protestors brought the fight right to the doorsteps of one of giants of the industry, descending on the suburban-Chicago headquarters of McDonald’s in advance of its annual shareholders’ meeting. More than 100 protesters were arrested, including SEIU President Mary Kay Henry.
“It’s time for the McDonald’s Corporation… to stop pretending that it can’t boost pay for the people who make and serve their food,” Henry said.
We will continue to support these and all workers in the struggle to organize and to make a living wage. You can learn more about the fast food workers fight for $15 here.