Fast-food workers took to the streets in New York, Los Angeles and at least 128 other cities across America today to demand an increase in wages from their employers. This was the second such strike organized by the workers according to Fast -Food Forward which is an organization advocating for decent wages for workers in the industry.
The prevailing wage for workers in the fast-food industry is $7.25 per hour which is the minimum wage in most states. Depending on the longevity of an employee the wages may top out at $8.25 per hour. Needless to say, even at the top end of the pay scale this could not be considered a livable wage.
Workers across the country are advocating for a $15.00 per hour wage and are willing to sacrifice current employment in order to get their point across. In addition to their demand for an increase in wages they are advocating for the right to organize and be a part of a union without management reprisals. Service Employees International Union is heavily involved in the protest movement along with the AFL-CIO.
According to an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal, the workers are pushing the industry in the direction of complete automation of all aspects of the services provided. One such test is already underway in California and is believed that today's protest will speed up such testing in other markets as well. The reporting was completely slanted towards the concerns of management with no regard to the plight of those unable to earn enough in wages to purchase basic necessities much less provide for a family. The threat of loosing their job by participating in today's protest was seen as the price that would have to be paid to get the industry as a whole to do a better job in paying their employees.
With the unemployment rate stabling off and no new jobs on the horizon, many well educated and competent people have found themselves stuck in the mire of the fast-food and service industry. With the largest private employer in the country Walmart using the social safety net of the federal government to subsidize the nutritional and health benefits of its workers, the fast-food industry has found a model to continue it's practices of ignoring the financial conditions of their workers for the sake of corporate profits.
An national increase in the minimum wage would go a long way in solving not only the problem in the fast-food industry but in all industries as a whole. With a $15.00 minimum, a worker would not have to settle for being a greeter a Walmart or asking "Do you want fries with that burger." They could actually pursue entry level position in a field more suited to their liking with the challenge of trying to make end meet on wages that are comparable to those earned back in 1968.