Fight for $15 Protests Launched

by Paul Garver

central-square-protest

Massachusetts State Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) was among three dozen demonstrators arrested on Tuesday in Cambridge, participants in one of three planned minimum wage protests in Massachusetts as part of a national “Fight for $15 Day of Action.”

In a statement, Eldridge wrote that he was arrested for civil disobedience while participating in the protest.

“I was arrested this morning in Cambridge for civil disobedience when I took to the streets alongside fast food and airport workers who are asking for a $15 minimum wage,” wrote Eldridge on his blog.”I’m very proud of the brave workers for having the courage to stand up to billionaire corporations and to fight for what they deserve.”

The protesters blocked traffic on Mass. Ave. in Central Square Cambridge early A.M. as part of the early wave of national actions on 29th November.supporting a $15 minimum wage.

[Ed. note: I am proud that Jamie Eldridge is the State Senator from my town. He is a leader of Progressive Democrats, a Sanders delegate and active in organizing to found an Our Revolution organization in Massachusetts.]

New Zealand Fast Food Workers Win Minimum Hours Guarantee

by Mike Treen, National Director, Unite

indonesia fast food nz

[Ed. note: Fast food industry workers in New Zealand have been organized by the Unite union for over a decade. Their relative strength has enabled their union to play an active role in the international campaigns to organize the fast food industry, both giving support to the Fight for $15 in the USA and receiving support from fast food workers in other countries through the IUF for their own campaigns. The photo shows a support demonstration from workers in Indonesia.-pg]

Workers in the fast food industry in New Zealand scored a spectacular victory over what has been dubbed “zero hour contracts” during a collective agreement bargaining round over the course of March and April this year.

The campaign played out over the national media as well as on picket lines. The victory was seen by many observers as the product of a determined fight by a valiant group of workers and their union, Unite. It was a morale boost for all working people after what has seemed like a period of retreat for working class struggle in recent years.

Workers in the fast food industry have long identified “zero hour contracts” as the central problem they face. These are contracts that don’t guarantee any hours per week, meanwhile workers are expected to work any shifts rostered within the workers “availability”. Managers have power to use and abuse the rostering system to reward and punish, without any real means of holding them to account.

This year, all the collective agreements with the major fast food companies (McDonald’s, Burger King, Restaurant Brands) expired on March 31. We were already in dispute with Wendy’s, as their agreement remains unresolved from last year. Unite Union was determined to end the system of zero hours and get guaranteed hours included in the new collective agreements. We had no illusions that this was going to be easy. We knew this would be a tough battle and we needed to prepare for that reality if we were to have a chance of success. At organising meetings I would sometimes use a phrase that appealed: “If you want peace, prepare for war”. I was told later it is taken from a Latin adage: “Si vis pacem, para bellum”. Whoever coined the phrase, it is a wise strategy.

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Seeds of a New Labor Movement ?

Harold Meyerson.

Mother Jones, American labor activist.

Mother Jones, American labor activist. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sit down and read. Prepare yourself for the coming battles.  Mother Jones.

 

DSA Honorary Chair Harold Meyerson has written the following important long form piece on the US. Labor Movement for the American Prospect. This piece merits discussion.

Excerpts:

“The path to collective bargaining has been shut down in the United States,” says Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and head of the AFL-CIO’s Organizing Committee. Where Rolf differs from most of his colleagues is in his belief that collective bargaining—at least, as the nation has known it for the past 80 years—is not coming back. In a paper he distributed to his colleagues in 2012 and in commentaries he wrote for several magazines (including this one), he argued that unions should acknowledge their impending demise—at least in the form that dates to the Wagner Act—and focus their energies and resources on incubating new institutions that can better address workers’ concerns. “The once powerful industrial labor unions that built the mid-century American middle class are in a deep crisis and are no longer able to protect the interests of American workers with the scale and power necessary to reverse contemporary economic trends,” he wrote in his paper. “The strategy and tactics that we’ve pursued since the 1947 Taft-Hartley Amendments [which narrowed the ground rules under which unions may operate] are out of date and have demonstrably failed to produce lasting economic power for workers. We must look to the future and invest our resources in new organizational models that respond to our contemporary economy and the needs of today’s workers.”

This October, with funding from his local, from the national SEIU, and from several liberal foundations, Rolf will unveil The Workers Lab, housed at the Roosevelt Institute in New York. The center will study and, in time, invest in organizations that, in Rolf’s words, “have the potential to build economic power for workers, at scale, and to sustain themselves financially.” Whatever those organizations may be, they won’t be unions—at least, not unions as they currently exist… Continue reading

McDonald’s is responsible for working conditions in franchise restaurants, labor board says

by Laura Clawson

(Photo: Wikipedia)

(Photo: Wikipedia)

In a move that could have far-reaching implications for franchised businesses and low-wage workers, the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel said Tuesday that McDonald’s would be treated as a joint employer along with franchisees in 43 unfair labor practices cases. Setting this precedent would make it harder for the company to deny responsibility for wage theft and other abuses—like the cases that raised this question in the first place, with workers alleging they were fired in retaliation for participating in legally protected strikes. McDonald’s, like other franchise businesses, has traditionally claimed that it has nothing to do with labor practices in its restaurants, but the tight control the company exerts over every aspect of management of its franchisee-owned restaurants points to a different conclusion:

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Fast Food Workers Organize Globally

by Paul Garver

Strike Closes Burger King in Boston (photo credit Stevan Kirschbaum)

Strike Closes Burger King in Boston (photo credit Stevan Kirschbaum)

The international coordinated actions of fast food workers on May 15th represent a new and unprecedented level of global labor solidarity.

Activists have long called for international labor solidarity to confront global corporations. The global fast food industry presents an excellent example of an industry dominated by a few giant corporations like McDonalds whose chief executives receive 1200 times higher pay than their fast food workers. The industry takes in over $200 billion annually, while employing tens of millions of low paid workers in hundreds of countries.

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Super-sized fast food worker strike to start tomorrow as movement goes global

by Teamster Nation

5-15-14Fast food workerswill strike tomorrow in 150 U.S. cities and 30 cities overseas, escalating the movement for fair wages and the right to organize that now encompasses port truck drivers, warehouse workers, food processing workers, Walmart associates and government contractors.

Short, sudden strikes began in late 2012 against fast-food employers, but they have since grown to include a spectrum of low-wage workers joining together in job actions. Walmart workers, longshoremen and Teamsters held picket lines for striking port drivers recently, and a McDonald’s worker and UFCW member recently joined Teamsters and Taylor Farms workersin California’s state capital to push for a bill protecting temporary workers.

Decades of union-busting in this country lowered wages to the point where half the workers in America earn wages at or near the poverty level. Now tens of thousands of workers at a time are taking to the street to demand a fair day’s wage for a day’s work. Continue reading

Alt Labor Risising: Organizing Walmart & the Fast Food Industry

demos-atllabor_joshModerator:

  • Josh Eidelson, Staff Writer, Salon

Panelists:

  • Sylvia Fabela, Organizer, OUR Walmart
  • Patricia Locks, Walmart worker
  • Kendall Fells, Organizing Director, Fast Food Forward
  • Amy Traub, Senior Policy Analyst, Demos

Time: November 19th, 6 p.m.

Location220 5th Avenue, 5th Floor, New York, NY  10001

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Fast food workers strike in 60 cities

by Laura Clawson

Striking fast food workers in New York City, July 29, 2013.

(August 29) The biggest fast food strike yet—a title that’s been set and eclipsed repeatedly in the past year—is happening across the country today [Thursday], with workers in 60 cities reported by organizers to have walked out of their fast food (and, in some cases, retail) jobs. The workers are calling for a living wage of $15 an hour and for the right to form a union without intimidation or retaliation, to counter the disrespect they meet daily.In every strike, workers cite a simple fact: They cannot live on the $7.25 or $8 they are paid, especially with unpredictable part-time schedules that make their paychecks vary wildly from week to week, especially when they have children to care for or tuition to pay. But they also have stories of gratuitous mistreatment, from being forced to work off the clock to insults to injuries on the job without proper care. It’s things as simple as the tip you think you’re giving Dunkin Donuts workers in Madison, Wisconsin: Continue reading

Fast food strikes go nationwide on Aug. 29

by Laura Clawson


Fast food strikes are, as promised, set to expand dramatically, with a call for a nationwide one-day fast food strike on Aug. 29. While the groundwork has been laid for the strikes thus far—in cities like New York, Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis—by serious organizing ahead of time, the call for a national strike clearly aims to spur workers in other places to self-organize, with an online toolkit and invitation to contact organizers.
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Join the Fight! – Atlanta is joining the Fast Food Worker Movement!

by Neil Sardana

Did you know?

The fastest growing jobs in the United States are also the lowest paid. Fast food provides an increasing share of our new jobs, but workers are paid between $10,000 and $18,000/year less than half what it costs to support a family in the Atlanta Metropolitan area.

Fast Food workers are not paid enough to afford basic needs like food, clothing, and rent. They often qualify for public assistance, which means that major profitable corporations are forcing taxpayers to subsidize their low wages and burdening the economy.

The Fast Food Industry (McDonald’s, Burger King, Chick-fil-A) is a booming industry which accounts for over $200 BILLION in profits. They should pay their hard working employees enough to cover the necessities and support their families.
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