On Friday, hundreds of fast food workers in Detroit walked off the job in a one day strike to raise the minimum wage. The Detroit protest comes after similar protests in St. Louis, Chicago, and New York.
An estimated 400 workers at 60 different restaurants in Detroit walked off their jobs to join protests calling for a livable wage and the right to unionize, making it the largest fast food strike in history. Currently fast food workers in Detroit make the minimum wage of $7.40 an hour. Protesters demanded that the minimum wage be raised to $15.00 an hour. Multiple locations in the city were shut down as a result. Reportedly one McDonald’s called in workers to replace the strikers, but the replacements then joined the strike as well.
McDonald’s worker Keith Bullard told the Huffington Post, “This morning, I walked off my job at McDonald’s. I’m a 29-year-old husband and a father of two. My wife can’t work because of health problems-and the $7.50 an hour I make at McDonald’s just isn’t enough to cover my family’s basic needs.” In a statement to the Huffington Post Pastor Charles Williams II, a leader in the protest, said “Can anybody really feed children and take care of a family on the current minimum wage of $7.40 an hour? If we truly want to stimulate the economy then we must stimulate the wages of those who collectively have the buying power to strengthen the economy. It’s simple. I support the workers today because, raising their wage, raises our economy.”
Michigan is the first “right-to-work” state that has seen a strike by fast food workers. Detroit is also under emergency management by Governor Rick Snyder’s administration, meaning that emergency managers have the ability to overrule local authorities on any financial matter. This has resulted in civil service employees being laid off, local industries being privatized and union wages being slashed. Protests have spread from New York in early April to Chicago, central Pennsylvania, and St. Louis in addition to Detroit.