Elected Officials, Fast Food Workers Unite to Fight for Living Wages

Fast food workers on public assistance call for higher pay, the right to form a union.

Chanting "You can't survive on $7.25!" and "Hey hey, ho ho, minimum wage has got to go!," employees from fast food restaurants throughout the city gathered in Brooklyn Friday to demand higher and mores supportive wages and called for the right to form a union. 

"It's about labor standards," said Council Member Letitia James, D-Fort Greene. "This is about respecting the right to organize. This is about the American dream, this is about democracy."

Joined by elected officials and the Coalition for the Homeless, United NY, New York Communities for Change, and VOCAL-NY, fast food workers told their stories outside the Auburn Family Center, a homeless shelter where many individuals employed by these chains reside. 

"It's a struggle to wake up every day in the shelter with my kids, knowing that my check this week isn't going to be enough to get out," said Pamela Flood, a Burger King employee living at the shelter with her three children. "$7.25 is not an option. We should be getting $15 an hour to maintain a living."

Fifteen dollars an hour and the right to form a union would make it possible to find housing, support families and reach a better standard of living, those on strike say. 

“These corporations make massive profits, too often at the expense of workers who must turn to food stamps, Medicaid, and other government programs to make ends meet,” said Council Member Brad Lander, D-Brooklyn.

Lander noted that the government should not have to subsidize these corporations' practices with government assistance such as food stamps and housing. “I hope New York’s fast food industry will do the right thing by paying its staff the wage they need and letting them join a union,” he continued.

Council Member Jumaane Williams, D-Ditmas Park, agreed, saying: "The least they could do is pay a salary so people don't have to live in a homeless shelter."

"I’ve worked hard at McDonald’s for three years, and after all that time and work, I should be making enough to get by on own," said Alterique Hall, who used to receive food stamps and fears he will have to go back on the program. 

"We, as a city, cannot continue to allow multibillion dollar corporations to thrive at the expense of low-income workers. We must do better. We must require that these companies pay their workers a real living wage,” said Council Member Steve Levin, D-Brooklyn. 

Joe Gonzalez December 14, 2012 at 09:27 PM
The public record shows that in New york City alone, there are about 650,000 folks receiving "public assistance" and 1.3 million people who receive food stamps. Those numbers tell me that if they were organized, they would be a powerful force to be recognized--and RESPECTED. Its also true that not everybody on food stamps, public assistance or other similar public hep program is not employed. In fact many working people are getting such a small pay check that they qualify for financial help. I say UNIONIZE and make your voices heard.
choose asidebrad December 14, 2012 at 09:50 PM
“These corporations make massive profits, too often at the expense of workers who must turn to food stamps, Medicaid, and other government programs to make ends meet,” said Council Member Brad Lander, D-Brooklyn Let's increase the cost of wages so the price of a meal can increase and then we can protest the high cost of living so Brad can have a job: a politican. Alaso, who funded your campaign Brad. May not have been someone owning a franchise, but someone with money. Kinda makes you look like a hypocrite
Dudley Escobar December 14, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Let's make minimum wage $100/hour and then we can all be wealthy. Right?
brads ajoke topolitics December 15, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Speaking from experience, there is no service in any fast food restaurant. So what is the wage increase going towards? Are we to assume that more money will motivate the employee to treating the customer better? If one is not self motivated and requires money, then increasing the wage will only send the wrong message. One more thing, would the wage increase not validate that you don't need a HS diploma to earn a good paying job? One more thing Brad will encourage is lower expectations and to strive for lower standards. Let's call a spade a spade and stop poitcking every BS cause
brads ajoke topolitics December 15, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Joe you were the same person that characterized BAM as for the elite and rich because you're known for your highly opinionated and narrow minded remarks. As for unionizing the fast food employees, we might as well outsource the burgers and fries. We all know how this ends with US production (Detroit, Chrysler)


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