On May 15th, Just Harvest joined One Pittsburgh protesters demanding a living wage and the right to unionize for fast food workers. These protests were part of a day of action planned for 150 U.S. cities targeting 17 fast food restaurant chains, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC.
Thousands of fast food workers in more than 30 countries across the globe held demonstrations on that day as well, standing in solidarity with their U.S. counterparts. Workers from Bangkok to Belfast walked off their jobs and held rallies and sit-ins in a huge world-wide protest.
This international day of protest was organized by Fast Food Forward, an SEIU-funded coalition with a goal of unionizing chain restaurant employees. This campaign began in November of 2012, when hundreds of workers from fast food chains across New York City walked off their jobs.
Union organizers want to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. It has been $7.25 an hour since 2009. Most Democrats and Independents in Congress support the Harkin-Miller Fair Minimum Wage Act, a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour minimum wage and index it to inflation.
President Obama has said he would back the Democrats’ proposal. However, congressional Republicans are opposed to the increase and stymied an attempt late last month to open debate on the bill on the senate floor.
According to a Gallup poll, released in November of 2013, 76% of Americans support a raise in the minimum wage.
U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill for the fast food industry’s low wage jobs, which force workers to rely on public assistance to survive. More than half of the families of fast food employees depend on public benefit programs such as Medicaid and Food Stamps.