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Friday, August 2, 2013

Fast Food Worker: We Want $15 An Hour And A Union

Rasheen Aldridge and Ruby Edwards demonstrate in front of McDonald's on W. Florissant Ave. in St. Louis. (Kate Sheets/Facebook)

Rasheen Aldridge and Ruby Edwards demonstrate in front of McDonald’s on W. Florissant Ave. in St. Louis. (Kate Sheets/Facebook)

Union organizers say a series of rolling one-day walkouts by fast food workers in seven U.S. cities constitute the single largest employee action in the history of the industry.

Thousands of workers from two dozen chains are calling for the right to unionize and higher wages — $15 an hour.

You feel your job is in jeopardy every day you go to work. Not having a union is like not having a stable life.

– Cinnamon Tigner

That’s twice what many workers in the industry currently make, and well above the current median rate of $9.05 per hour.

The campaign started in New York about eight months ago. It’s backed by workers groups and has received millions of dollars from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Critics of the labor action say the workers should get another job if they don’t like their current one.

Economists including David Neumark say the demands may be unrealistic. He told Here & Now that a sharp rise in wages would have some benefits, but it would also lead to some job losses.

Rasheen Aldridge, a striking worker currently employed at Jimmy Johns in St. Louis, says employees can’t live on $7 or $8 dollars an hour. He wants a living wage and a union.

Cinnamon Tigner works at Wendy’s in St. Louis, and told Here & Now, “A union is very important because you will feel protected. You feel your job is in jeopardy every day you go to work. Not having a union is like not having a stable life.”

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