In response to the nations growing poverty rates and increased expenses, many groups are urging fast-food workers across the nation to participate in a strike to effectively take a stand for positive changes.
Large amounts of one-day work stoppages in many areas around the nation are the beginning of efforts by unions to issue a call to change for the fast-food industry. The groups seek to strengthen the affects of striking workers in the food industry by calling for a nation-wide strike, uniting the industries workers against low wages and lack of benefits.
The union groups and labor supporters state that changes to the fast-food industry are long overdue, stating that the majority of fast-food employees are poorly paid, making just above minimum wage and that larger corporations are cashing in fiscally. Other concerns have been raised about the decision, pointing out that franchise owners within these fast-food companies do not posses the profit margins to handle an increase in wages for employees and a forced increased in pay could put some franchises out of business entirely.
The Service Employees International Union and United Food & Commercial Workers groups are joined by dozens of smaller local, religious, political and union groups supporting the national strike. Groups have already initiated several walk-outs that have spanned seven cities and state that these are just the beginning of the conflicts to come if changes are not made. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, the current state of hourly wages for fast-food employees is dismal:
The over 500,000 fast-food cooks currently employed in the U.S earn an average hourly salary of $9.03 per hour which calculates to only slightly above $18,000 per year.
2.9 million Employees currently working in food preparation and serving positions earn roughly $9 per hour wages.
Many fast-food companies limit their employees’ hours to below part-time status to avoid paying benefits and health insurance costs.
For many workers across the U.S these averages are well above actual wages, leaving many workers below poverty level. In addition, surveys conducted in several U.S cities have determined that individual employees need to make over $12 per hour to properly support themselves, the totals close to double for each non-working dependent in the home.
The statistics have prompted groups that support the strike to call for a $15 per hour minimum wage for full time fast-food employees as well a protection against retaliation for those employees that opt to join fast-food unions. Critics of the proposed changes are concerned that smaller businesses and franchises will feel most of the affect if the groups’ changes are implemented while acknowledging that the multi-million dollar companies such as McDonalds Corporation only spend 30% per year of their billion dollar profits on employee wages.