Thousands of fast food and retail workers across the US plan to go on strike this Thursday, protesting the current hourly wage. The strikes by fast food and retail workers have been building over the past few months, originating with New York restaurant workers in November of 2012.
The workers planning to strike this week, in up to 35 cities or more, will demand a 15 dollar hourly wage, a large increase from the current hourly average of nine dollars and yearly average of $18,130. The typical worker has no benefits and an irregular schedule. The strikers are partnering with grassroots organizations and advocacy groups like Service Employees International Union.
Restaurant industry advocates are criticizing the action. “Restaurants already operate on very thin profit margins,” National Restaurant Association spokeswoman Cristin Fernandez said in a statement. “Significant additional labor costs can negatively impact a restaurant’s ability to hire or maintain jobs.”
Although strikers have not yet achieved their goals of raising wages and allowing them to unionize–important in cases where workers can be fired for participating in strikes–the strikes have helped raise awareness about the fact that many fast food workers are not parent-supported teenagers just making extra cash, but people who must survive on these dismal wages.
This is the largest labor movement in fast food industry history, and it shows no signs of stopping. “It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but we’re going to make sure it happens somehow. They need to hear our voice. They need to hear about our struggles,” Jossura Dossantos, a KFC employee, told the Boston Globe.