Under the wing of the SEIU (Service Employees International Union), fast food workers in New York City and across the United States struck today again in protest of their current wage and working conditions. Seeking not only a raise to the federal minimum wage and an immediate increase to $15 per hour, NYC workers also want the right to organize into a union as they were joined today by community activists, politicians and religious leaders.
Organizers expect the strike to carry over into more than 50 cities across the country including Chicago, Charlotte, N.C., Los Angeles, Detroit, Atlanta, Boston and Las Vegas. In many cities the action will not cripple operations as an early notice was given to management in order to allow them to adjust staffing levels.
Not to be outdone and in what could be described as a veiled threat of retaliation, The Employment Policies Institute produced a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal depicting a robot making pancakes.
Reading, “Why Robots Could Soon Replace Fast Food Workers Demanding a Higher Minimum Wage”, the ad is an attempt to dissuade employees from further protests explaining that restaurants may have to switch to robots if service costs become too extreme.
Referring to the ad, EPI research director Michael Saltsman said, “You can either raise prices and lose customers, or (automate) those jobs. The idea that restaurants are rolling in the money is not representative of the situation franchisees face."
But many in the industry and elsewhere are not buying the math. With $200 billion dollars in sales last year across the board, many don’t see the difficulty in providing a living wage that allows employees to feed their families.
Ironically, this week, August 25 through August 31, is National Labor Rights Week. The National Labor Relations Board lists on its website programs offered across the country geared towards educating workers about their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. But if you look at the list, there’s no mention of any involvement with any of the fast food actions across the country.
Source: CNN Money, NLRB website, Reuters