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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Opinion

Fast food workers stage walk-out, demanding raises


$15 minimum wage

Francis Emelogu/The Cougar

The UC Satellite is one of the most frequented places on campus due to its friendly atmosphere, comfortable seating and its variety of fast food restaurants to choose from.

Fast food is an integral part of our community, be it in school or outside of it. It’s much easier to grab a burger from McDonald’s than wait for a proper dinner, and even further from the mind than waiting on dinner is the life or struggle of the fast food employee who is handing out the double cheeseburger.

According to Think Progress, in New York City during Thanksgiving 2012 a campaign was started to demand a $15 hourly wage for all fast food workers. Since then, workers have been periodically walking out of their jobs in support of this campaign.

On Sept. 4, hundreds of workers from around 159 cities walked out of their jobs on the 10th day of strikes since this campaign began. These workers were arrested while demanding a right to unionize and for demanding higher wages. Think Progress reported that the arrests were scattered around the United States, including 50 arrests in Chicago, 52 arrests in Kansas City and 11 arrests in Little Rock.

This is not the first time fast food workers have protested against their treatment. There was a strike of 60 cities in August 2013 and a strike of 100 cities in December 2013. Since the Thanksgiving 2012 campaign, the recent strike on Sept. 4 was the first which utilized a system that used nonviolent protest to explain and support their cause.

The campaign, which has been entitled the “Fight for $15” campaign, has gained national attention and even resulted in a statement being made by President Barack Obama when he appeared in Milwaukee on Labor Day recently, said WXYZ Detroit.

“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,” Obama said. “If I were busting my butt in the service industry and wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, I’d join a union.”

This makes one wonder why these workers haven’t already been allowed higher wages.

In society today, individuals who work at fast food restaurants are given a negative connotation. Being a fast food worker is not normally a job one is proud about, but the majority of these fast food workers are students looking to make some money, or individuals simply trying to make ends meet.

Increasing the wage for these individuals would be extremely beneficial to them, because the money they are earning might just be the only form of income.

According to Think Progress, the workers had protested in a peaceful way, and yet they were still arrested. One of the protestors, Reverend W.J. Rideout, tried to explain the cause in a statement to WXYZ Detroit.

“We had over 100 people arrested … however, they respected every police officer,” Rideout said. “And we also chanted ‘Police need a raise also.’ EMS need a raise, firefighters need a raise. So we’re not against anyone here; we’re against the corporations, we’re against McDonalds.”

Think Progress reported that McDonald’s has been committing wage theft against its workers by falsifying time sheets and having individuals work off the clock. For the average person, this treatment would be considered atrocious and better treatment of the workers would be demanded, but this does not seem to be the case.

Readers should also take into consideration that even Obama believes that fast food workers deserve a higher salary. This should be the call: if the President agrees with these workers, then the proper steps need to be taken to ensure that this happens as soon as possible.

From a college perspective, fast food restaurants are the most visited on campus. Between the UC and the UC Satellite, fast food employees at UH have to constantly be ready for a long and busy day due to the high demand these restaurants are in. Psychology junior Emma Coronado said that she has seen how busy campus food establishments are.

“Any time I choose to purchase lunch on campus, I am stuck waiting in a ridiculously long line,” Coronado said. “Once I do get to the counter, I am met with a frantic worker who can barely comprehend what I am saying because of how clearly stressed they are.”

Long lines are constantly seen at McDonalds, Taco Bell and the other restaurants at all hours of the day. These employees deserve the increased wages to make their time and energy worthwhile.

“A higher wage would decrease the high turn the campus restaurants have, and make everyone’s experience a little more pleasant around lunch time,” Coronado said.

Opinion columnist Trishna Buch is a print journalism senior and may be reached at [email protected] 

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