Fast-Food Strikes Fight the Slide into Junk Wages — For All Of Us

While President Obama continues his economic speaking tour, walkouts at fast-food restaurants rippled across cities nationwide last week, calling attention to the nation’s growing wealth gap. At the franchise stores of McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Burger King and KFC and other grease-slinging corporations, thousands of people protested the low wages dished out by the biggest names in the industry and raised a common demand: $15 an hour and the right to unionize. “We are all going through the same thing,” said Naquasia LeGrand, who works at a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Brooklyn and has emerged as one of the most outspoken voices in what is emerging as a national campaign. [tweetable]“We get burns from deep fryers. We don’t have health benefits. We get treated unfairly in the workplaces. [/tweetable] We need more wages.” The campaign — underwritten by the Service Employees International Union — kicked off with a one-day strike New…

“It’s impossible to run a democracy where you have vast privilege and vast poverty with nothing in between. It’s already not working; too many people are disenfranchised both politically and economically.”
-- Rabbi Michael Feinberg (Photo via Fight for 15)

Time for a Raise?: Inside the Fight for 15

The kind of day Kasseen Silver has at work often depends on the weather. He’s worked at the Burger King on 116th Street (at Lexington Avenue) in Manhattan for two years now, and, he says, “My particular store, when it rains outside it rains inside. If it’s really hot outside you know you’re going to be hot inside.” Silver, who is part of the Fast Food Forward campaign calling for a raise to $15 an hour and union recognition, lives in the Bronx with his wife and three children. It takes him about an hour and a half to get to work, closer to two hours when he gets out of an evening shift. “At 1:30, 2:00 in the morning I’ll be on public transportation. I take three different trains to get to my destination, sometimes I’m delayed. I’m very tired.” Like so many of New York’s fast food workers,…

Front-runner Christine Quinn speaking to business leaders in Brooklyn. (Photo: Myrtle Avenue Business Partnership/CC)

Mixed Bag for NY’s Working, Middle Class Families in 2013 Mayoral Election

Your rent is too damn high. You’re trying to make a living in the worst economy since the Depression. If you have a job, you probably haven’t gotten more than a token raise in years, and there’s a good chance you’re working freelance or part-time, with no benefits or security. So what does this year’s crop of mayoral candidates have to offer you, after 12 years of rule by Michael Bloomberg, the seventh-richest person in the United States—who increased his fortune by more than $22 billion while in office? — Six of the 11 now running are Democrats—City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Comptroller John Liu, and former Comptroller Bill Thompson, plus former Councilmember Sal Albanese and activist/comedian Randy Credico. Four are seeking the Republican nomination: former Metropolitan Transportation Authority chair Joseph Lhota, supermarket billionaire John Catsimatidis, community-newspaper publisher Tom Allon, and George McDonald, head of…

(Photo: Bill McChesney/CC/Flickr)

Bloomberg Gloats Like an Orwell Villain as NYC Bus Workers End Strike

New York City’s school-bus drivers and matrons have gone back to work after a month-long strike failed to win any concessions on job security from the Bloomberg administration. The administration refused to negotiate after soliciting bids for new contracts that don’t include the employee-protection provisions the workers went on strike to defend, and the union leaders decided to take their chances that the next mayor will be a Democrat and more sympathetic. “We appreciate the hard work our bus drivers and matrons do, and we welcome them back to the job,” Bloomberg said in a statement issued Feb. 15. “In the city’s entire history, the special interests have never had less power than they do today, and the end of this strike reflects the fact that when we say we put children first, we mean it.” That statement oozes with slimy dishonesty. If Bloomberg appreciates the drivers’ and matrons’ work…

Low wage workers all over the city, like these Domino's employees, are getting organized fir fair wages and treatment. (Photo:  New York Communities for Change)

Low Wage Workers Resuscitate NY’s Organized Labor

With New York’s barbell economy destroying traditional middle class employment, fast food workers aren’t the only ones fed up with low wages and unfair labor practices. Others rising up to fight for fair pay include workers from: • Farm Country in East New York – 63 current and former workers at Farm Country in East New York will receive a total of $500,000 in back pay as a result of being underpaid hourly as well as being shorted on overtime. Workers voted to unionize and will be getting 50-cent raises over minimum wage, overtime, and paid days off. • Golden Farm in Kensington, Brooklyn – Since 2008, workers from Golden Farm have been fighting for fair pay, overtime, and paid sick leave…and they’re winning. After contacting the Dept. of Labor, suing the owner for back pay, organizing a community-wide boycott that has resulted in a 20% drop in revenue, and…