In this age of high income and wealth inequality and stagnate wages, one wonders how long it will be before low wage workers unite effectively. When will there be mass protests for fairness? We see signs that they may be coming. Today, bostonherald.com reports that Boston area fast food workers are planning to walk off their jobs to protest low wages, to win the right to unionize and to push for a $15 per hour wage. The report says the average wage for fast food workers in Boston is $8.90 per hour. This compares with the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that show that as of May 2013 the national average hourly wage of fast food counter workers and combined fast food preparation and serving workers was just over $8.70.
This September's push for a $15 per hour wage by fast food workers and their organizers is a continuation of efforts that were mounted around Labor Day of 2013. Now that Labor Day 2014 has come and the $15 per hour wage is as yet nowhere in sight, fast food worker organizers haven't given up the fight.
On Tuesday, huffingtonpost.com reported that organizers of the push for better pay for fast food workers plan nationwide protests. On Thursday, they are aiming for protests in as many as 150 cities that would include workers from McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC, among others.
The movement is fueling efforts by some politicians to back an increase in the federal minimum wage, if not to $15 per hour, then at least to a Democrat proposal to raise it to $10.10. The Obama Administration backs an increase in the federal minimum wage from the current of $7.25 to the $10.10 per hour level. In his Labor Day speech in Milwaukee, Obama touted the key role of labor unions. The President said that unions play a critical role in passing progressive labor legislation.
While many Republican politicians oppose an increase in the federal minimum wage, the Republican standard bearer in the last presidential election, Mitt Romney, has urged his Republican colleagues to support an increase.
It defies common sense to think that the incomes of CEOs and the top ten percent of Americans can keep rising while the wages of average wage earners continues to stagnate without there being some backlash. Perhaps that could happen in nation with a dictatorship at the helm, but it is hard to see how it could last in a democracy.