Fast food and home care workers will walk off the job in more than 100 cities on Thursday, with at least a dozen cities staging sit-ins for higher wages.
Unlike actions in months past, the September 4th action is the first to involve home care aides, a workforce made up of more than 2 million people. This is also the first time the labor union-led movement will engage in mass arrests and sit-ins.
The strikes are part of a larger effort to pressure big businesses to raise wages to $15 an hour. Since 2012, workers have been fighting for fair pay, the right to unionize, and other labor protections against tactics like wage theft. At a convention of fast food workers in July, more than 1300 participants voted to participate in acts of civil disobedience to emphasize their call for a living wage.
Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the food service industry is the worst-paying sector in the US according to The New Republic. Female laborers and people of color fare the worst. Seventy-three percent of all front-line workers are female, and 43 percent are black or Latino. At least 52 percent of fast food workers depend on public assistance because of the poverty wages they earn.
Earlier this year, President Barack Obama issued an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors from $7.25 to $10.10. The President has supported Congressional action to raise the federal minimum wage across the board, but Senate Republicans voted to block the Minimum Wage Fairness Act from coming to a vote in April. The measure would have raised the federal minimum wage to $10.10, but the bill is expected to come up again.
Take Action! Find a demonstration in your city or sign the petition at strikefastfood.org.
Media Resources: New York Times 9/1/14; Strike Fast Food 9/1/14; The New Republic 8/31/14; Feminist Newswire 10/17/13, 12/5/13, 2/14/14, 5/1/14