They work for some of the biggest businesses in the United States, yet they are among the nation's lowest-paid workers.
On Thursday, hundreds of fast-food workers staged protests at McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Taco Bell and other restaurants in New York City to call attention to their plight. Organizers scheduled the job actions to commemorate the day Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated 45 years ago in Memphis, where he was supporting a strike by sanitation workers.
Burger King and McDonald's said in statements to Reuters that most restaurants in their chains are independently owned and operated, and offer compensation consistent with industry standards.
As many as 400 workers from more than five dozen restaurants around New York City committed to turn out for protests planned at various locations throughout the day, said Jonathan Westin, director of Fast Food Forward.
Today’s planned work stoppage represents a major escalation by Fast Food Forward, a campaign spearheaded by the community organizing group New York Communities for Change.
The current minimum wage in New York is $7.25 an hour. New York has passed an increase in the minimum wage to $9 per hour which goes into effect...in 2016. The fast-food workers are seeking $15 per hour now.
Fast food workers deserve union representation, said Richard Trumka, national president of the AFL-CIO, who stopped by the Wendy's protest.
"They're being mistreated, they're being underpaid, they're going to stand together until they get fair treatment and we're going to stand with them," Trumka said.
Several protesters wore signs that said "I am a man" or "I am a woman," echoing placards carried in Memphis in 1968.