The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Community News Network

August 20, 2013

Low-wage workers set nationwide walkout for Aug. 29

Emboldened by an outpouring of support on social media, low-wage fast-food and retail workers from eight cities who have staged walkouts this year are calling for a national day of strikes Aug. 29.

The workers - who are backed by local community groups and national unions and have held one-day walkouts in cities such as New York, St. Louis and Detroit - say they have received pledges of support from workers in dozens of cities across the country.

The workers are calling for a wage of $15 an hour and the right to form a union. Organizers of the walkout say cashiers, cooks and crew members at fast-food restaurants are paid a median wage of $8.94 an hour.

Since some 200 workers walked off their jobs at fast-food restaurants in New York City this past November, the strikes have moved across the country, drawing attention to a fast-growing segment of the workforce that until recently had shown no inclination to organize for purposes of collective bargaining.

The planned August walkout - timed for the immediate aftermath of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the lead-up to Labor Day - is expected to touch 35 or more cities and involve thousands of workers, organizers said. The walkouts have not led to widespread changes, though some workers say they have gotten small pay increases and better hours in the wake of previous strikes.

"The top executives in these companies make huge salaries and the corporations make record profits every year," said Terrance Wise, 34, a father of three who earns $9.30 an hour at Burger King in Kansas City, where he has worked for eight years. He has a second job at Pizza Hut that pays him $7.47 an hour. "How about them cutting a little off the top? CEOs are taking home millions and many workers are struggling."

Wise said that he has looked for better-paying work but has had no luck. "All kinds of industries are cutting back workers," he said. "Most people are forced into these low-wage jobs. The options aren't as plentiful as people think."

Wise, who has been working with Kansas City organizers since January and has participated in one walkout, says he has helped sign up scores of workers who plan to join the nationwide job action.

Willietta Dukes, 39, a mother of two living in Durham, N.C., said she plans to walk off her job at Burger King that day. She said she has little choice. After 15 years of working behind the counters, griddles and deep fryers of fast-food restaurants, she still earns a poverty-level wage. She said her highest salary has been $8.65 an hour, and she rarely is scheduled for a 40-hour week.

 "I have been watching on TV and I have seen a lot of people forming around the country, striking for better wages and to have their voices heard. I think it is high time that I did something," Dukes said. "I work hard. I don't sit around. I am good at what I do. Yet after working all day, I do not earn enough to even pay for the basics. I don't want to be in poverty forever."

The fast-food workers are expected to be joined by retail workers from stores such as Macy's, Dollar Tree and Sears. Many of them said they have received pledges of support on Facebook and through the websites of local organizing groups.

Although he has not commented on the fast-food walkouts, President Barack Obama has called on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 a hour. The idea has broad support from voters, but opponents say it would further hurt job creation. A recent Public Religion Research Institute survey found that nearly three of four Americans favored raising the minimum wage to $10.

The fledgling movement, which has been aided by the Service Employees International Union and other labor groups, as well as local religious groups, argues that many fast-food and low-paid retail workers are forced to rely on government aid programs to provide for their families, even as fast-food corporations rake in $200 billion a year in revenues.

Moreover, organizers say, most fast-food workers are adults relying on the jobs to support themselves and their families, not teenagers looking to earn pocket money. The Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research group, says that roughly eight out of 10 workers in the country earning minimum wage are age 20 or older, and half of them work 40 hours a week.

"It is clear that the bulk of minimum-wage workers are mid- or full-time adult employees, not teenagers or part-timers," the EPI researchers said.

Fast-food industry representatives have said that jobs in their restaurants offer a valuable gateway into the workforce for millions of workers, most of whom move on to other, better-paying jobs. In addition, they say that fast-food franchises, as well as retailers, often operate on wafer-thin profit margins and that paying workers as much as $15 an hour would drive them out of business.

But workers say something is going to have to give. "I personally think a $15-an-hour wage is very obtainable," said Shonda Roberts, 38, a mother of three who works at KFC in Oakland, Calif. She says she plans to walk off the job with other workers.

"As hard as we work, are we not worth $15 an hour? I certainly believe I am."

      

       

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet

    Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
    The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

    April 14, 2014

  • watching-tv.jpg Cutting the cord on cable TV, and not missing it a bit

    Three years ago, Royse City Herald Banner reporter Chris McGathey and his family decided to ditch pay TV in favor of Netflix, Hulu Plus and other cheaper web-based services. It's a decision they haven't regretted.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • spt_baylor.jpg VIDEO: Angels hitting coach suffers bizarre leg injury

    LA Angels hitting coach Don Baylor suffered a broken leg while squatting to catch a ceremonial first pitch from former Angel Vladimir Guerrero on Opening Day.

    April 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • barbour021614.jpg Sibling says Dexter drama motivated sister's 'lie' of mass murder

    The older sister of Miranda Barbour, who claims she murdered more than 22 "bad people" over six years, says the story is a lie that stems from infatuation with the Showtime TV series about a Miami cop who leads a secret life as a serial killer.

    April 1, 2014 1 Photo 3 Stories

  • Fact Checker: 'Birth control' for something other than family planning?

    "When 99 percent of women used birth control in their lifetime and 60 percent use it for something other than family planning, it's outrageous and I think the Supreme Court will suggest that their case is ridiculous."

    March 31, 2014

  • dog-sunglasses.jpg Do animals have a sense of humor?

    Right now, in a high-security research lab at Northwestern University's Falk Center for Molecular Therapeutics, scientists are tickling rats. Their goal? To develop a pharmaceutical-grade happiness pill. But their efforts might also produce some of the best evidence yet that humor isn't something experienced exclusively by human beings.

    March 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • touch.jpg Divorce is on the rise, and it's the baby boomers' fault

    A new paper from demographers at the University of Minnesota found that the age-standardized divorce rate has actually risen by an astonishing 40 percent since 1980.

    March 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • firefighters.jpg VIDEO: Firefighters sing song from 'Frozen' to calm girl stuck in elevator

    Firefighters in Reading, Mass., sing the Disney power ballad known by children everywhere -- "Let It Go" -- to calm a 4-year-old stuck in an elevator.

    March 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • muffin-brunch-food-breakfast.jpg Can what you eat affect your mental health?

    Jodi Corbitt had been battling depression for decades and by 2010 had resigned herself to taking antidepressant medication for the rest of her life. Then she decided to start a dietary experiment.

    March 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140325-AMX-BARISTA251.jpg Coffee's third wave? The Apple to Starbucks' Microsoft

    Do you remember when Starbucks was cool? It opened in Seattle in the 1970s as a local specialty roaster, a trendy alternative to the prevailing generic swill. But the price of conquest is cachet. What was once novel — the warm décor, the gentle music, the faux-Italian lingo — has become banal. Today's coffee snobs would rather snort Sanka than set foot inside a Starbucks

    March 25, 2014 2 Photos

Elections
Front page
Clinton Herald Photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.

Poll

Should the city of Clinton appeal the open records violation ruling that will cost taxpayers $40,600?

Yes
No
     View Results
AP Video
Olympics 2014
Featured Comment
Featured Ads
Blue Zones Project
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.