Fast food workers rally Thursday to demand higher pay, right to form union

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A national movement by fast food workers to raise their minimum wage to $15 an hour is growing. Tens of thousands of fast food workers around the world plan to walk off the job Thursday, including some in Kansas City. The rallies will span 150 cities and 33 countries on six continents.

Besides calling for a $15 an hour wage, they are also, for the first time, demanding the right to form a union.

Kansas City workers have rallied several times over the past year and a half. In fact, after the initial rally in New York City back in the fall of 2012, Kansas City was one of the next cities to get involved in the grass-roots movement.

A few weeks ago, organizers of the movement met with union leaders to discuss a joint ventureship. One local mother of four who has worked at Wendy's for eight years makes the minimum wage of $7.50 an hour and she explained what she wants from these efforts.

"A livable wage because we are not living," Latrya Caldwell. "We’re barely making it. We’re using state assistance to take care of our billing necessities, and if we’re working 40 hours at a time, we should be able to take care of our own bills and our own children.

Those against this movement include the National Restaurant Association, which believes 'the majority of lower-wage employees work part-time to supplement a family income.'

While many stereotype fast food workers as teenagers, the truth is that the median age is 28, and most fast food workers are between the ages of 25-54.

As for whether these rallies are working? Seattle recently proposed a $15/hour minumum wage, so it does appear to be having some effect.

 

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28 comments

    • Adam

      That is the problem, there are many jobs out there that pay more. But people don’t want to “work” or want it on their terms. People think they are entitled to everything. If you want better, make yourself better/more marketable (get/continue an education, stay out of jail, quit doing drugs). Basically be a productive member of society, not a leach.

    • Sue

      There are people who go school for AA’s that dont make that much. People who actually have to think for a living. I’m sorry that is the situatiuon they are in but maybe they should think about another job training in something. If they are really that bad off they could get government help.

  • Heather

    If u want to get paid more money go back to school for an education. I work as an LPN and only make 16 an hr and that was going to school for a year. My job is a lot harder than flipping burgers and taking orders. Higher wages will also increase cost of living expensives (ie gas, food, clothing, etc)

    • jack

      Is that really the only two choices? Demand and extort twice what you’re worth, or sit on your rear at home like a dog waiting for his master to come home and give him his daily treat. Pathetic.

  • connie

    I personally think $15:00 an hour for fast food is a little high , I know people that have hard job’s and don’t make that much , for heaven sakes not that hard to flip a burger and put fries in a cup , get real , I think they should get a little more money but not what they are asking for

  • Adam

    I worked for minimum wage when I was in high school. It was fine for me. The only ones who complained were people who couldn’t get a job else where for various reasons (lack of school, jail time, etc). There were other people using it to supplement their current income. Some people wanted the flexible hours.

    If it’s not for you, don’t work there – PLAIN AND SIMPLE!!

  • WhySoSerious

    Instead of $15 an hour I will gladly pay for you to take an ECONOMICS class so you can understand what a terrible idea this is! I just don’t see a $8 Big Mac being a very big hit with educated customers!

  • Danielle

    This is pathetic! Everyone wants more for doing less. I went to school to get a degree and I didn’t even make $15 out of COLLEGE!!! Which means I had to pay for an education to get to where I am. Fast food workers cant even get a freaking order correct or display any kind of customer service anymore. Open the window and throw the food at you while phone in their hand. I am appreciative that I have the ability to drive up and get food when we are to busy to stop and cook. However, you don’t deserve $15 an hour. That is why it doesn’t require an education. Anyone can do it.

  • TR

    OK, just for those people that are making a “CAREER” out of working at a fast food restaurant, then here is some advice for you. Move up into the management positions if you want to make more pay. Those job were originally made for the part timers that needed a 2nd job or for the high school kids that needed money for gas, car, parties. If you want to make a career out of serving fast food, then get a SECOND JOB to take care of your bills and quit bitching about how much your getting paid at your fast food job. You will NEVER make $15 an hour there and they will NEVER allow a union to come into the fast food business. They will start making age limits for all the positions during the time of day and ONLY hire you “PART TIME” to stop this insanity. Further your education so you can get a BETTER job.

  • Letty

    Bad timing People are waking up and bypassing these artificial food sh*tholes. Does anyone ever get what they want? Like no orange cheese, straws, napkins? They dont even look at you or thank you. Last time I went thru a Wendys on Barry Rd the woman was literally naming off locations shes worked to coworker and still doing it whn she shoved sack thru window like my car was a trash can, still doing it when I left. Never spoke to me. I think she was related to Bubba Gump. You mean that ignorant person wants 15/hr? Hahaha

  • Jo

    Starting wage for paramedics is $12-13/hour. Fastfood workers want to get paid more the a person who saves lives? Firefighters, Medic, Police officers put their lives on the line every day for less the $15/hr. Fast food workers want $15 to put a burger on a line? Sorry they cant support their family and most are depending on us to help them by using the goverment. The truth is even poeple who have gone to school and recieved and education are getting paid less than $15/hr and struggle to make ends meet. A majority of Firefighters, Paramedics and Police offericers all work second jobs to suppliment their income to make ends meet.

  • A P

    I work for a small business in Kansas City that has had some of my co-workers take part in this. I know for a fact that my employer pays much higher than minimum wage and when the first round of strikes took place they had to hire a lawyer to handle the allegations. I heard something like it cost the owners 11k to go through the process with the labor board, just to be told they did nothing wrong. I am upset about this, it is a small family owned business that I enjoy working for and that money could have been used for raises or new employees etc…

    I understand the need for a living wage but these people are hurting small business owners as well. They need to get their facts straight before they go and hurt the little guy.

  • wellnessclinician

    Gina,
    Fast food service, outside of management, is not meant to be a career. What you are proposing will put small franchisees out of business, plus, you are forcing them to cut the number of employees increasing the burden on the few employees that remain. It is NOT the employers responsibility when people choose to support families on an unskilled job. People, when you choose the behavior (having a family before you have the means to support one) you choose the consequence (struggling to support your family).

  • S

    To the mom of 4 who has spent 8 years at minimum wage… What poor life choices did you make that you have to have that job still?!?
    Ask for a raise, move up, or get out! You don’t have to quit a job to look for a new one and if you can’t get a new one you must have made some poor life choices at some point to make you undesirable as an employee.

    This protest is insane. $15 an hour for fast food is insane. I’m sorry if you don’t like it, but instead of protesting and holding your hand out, go elsewhere. Learn a trade, go for management, go to school, anything to better yourself. Take your future in your own hands and stop begging causer reality of a free market says that job isn’t worth that much. Sorry.

    Maybe we should protest their protest…

  • James

    Fox4 – “While many stereotype fast food workers as teenagers, the truth is that the median age is 28, and most fast food workers are between the ages of 25-54.” Where did this quote come from? Anytime I’ve been to a fast food place the workers are teenagers/or in there 20’s with a middle-aged manager.

    When I worked at one, 65% were teenagers. 1 manager in her 40’s, 2 assistant managers in their 30’s, a few 25-54’s (wide range but I used YOUR #s) and a few over 50’s (table wipers) that supplemented Social Security. The other 20-30 people were teenagers.

    • Adam

      James Sherk, senior policy analyst in Labor Economics at the Heritage Foundation, says fast-food work is meant to be temporary.

      “The fast food industry is heavily composed of teens and college students, and of people who are not staying there long,” Sherk says.

      “The average turnover is 150% in the industry, so people are leaving after eight months.”

  • Hyou

    I made minimum wage for several years in fast food. Rather than complaining and whining, I chose to work toward being an exemplary employee while also working on my education. Some others who worked followed somewhat similar paths.
    However, there were some who preferred to sulk and complain, often discussing silly unionization ideas. They naturally couldn’t get enough others to have sufficient to organize, as more of us were intelligent enough to know that was not going to benefit anyone except those who wanted something for nothing. That is how they even tried to sell the idea of unionization – we supposedly would not have to work so hard. Good grief, our work was not hard…tedious or monotonous maybe, but not hard manual labor or a safety issue.
    As I moved up with an AA, then BA, and ultimately MA, I moved up the wage scale and no longer a minimum wager. In fact, I am doing pretty well and a better human being on the planet and able to care and help others, as I have an appreciation for what I have, what I don’t have, and always have my integrity.
    On the other hand, interestingly, some of the lazy and unmotivated people I see are still in their minimum wage jobs, still complaining, still whining, still thinking a union will be beneficial for everyone. If they improved their education, they would be able to see how the wage and price cycles would impact them. If everyone gets paid that much more, everything costs much more, and wages do not make up the difference. In addition, if they improved their education, they could start doing some work that commands more pay (not demands), and would begin feeling better.
    My experience is that even if the people who complain that they want any goofy amount such as $15 per hour, at least double what it is in most areas now, they would still not be happy as those types of people are generally not happy people, and just have to have something, or someone, to complain about. That is their choice rather than improving their lives.
    How many more years do they have to waste complaining and griping and whining, instead of improving their education so they have more opportunities? As I have asked those I know and have had the opportunity to talk with regarding their plight, “if you owned a business, would you hire a person with a bad attitude, anti-business rhetoric, and no smile?” and, so far, at least each has honestly responded by saying “no” as they did not think about that, and gave them pause.
    Great opportunities abound for people like me who want to support the businesses who suffer from some irresponsible employees out walking the street, and it is great to go inside and thank the ones who properly arrived at work and dutifully fulfill their responsibilities. Those responsible employees really seem to appreciate the recognition. Thanks to the mature employees who work at their job properly, for the wage they agreed upon when hired. Keep working on your education and be positive, and you will end up much better paid, and definitely be a much better and happier human being.

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