Monday, July 29, 2013

[olympiaworkers] Fast-food workers in NYC stage strikes, rallies

NEW YORK (AP) — Workers at McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's restaurants
across New York walked out Monday in a one-day strike to demand better pay
and the right to unionize, calling for minimum wage to more than double
from $7.25 to $15 an hour and the end to what activists called "abusive
labor practices."

"It's noisy, it's really hot, fast, they rush you. Sometimes you don't
even get breaks. All for $7.25? It's crazy," said Nathalia Sepulveda, who
works at a McDonald's opposite Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, where one
protest took place.

Outside the McDonald's as well as a Wendy's in lower Manhattan, workers
chanted "we can't survive on $7.25" and "supersize our wages." At the
Wendy's, the crowd shouted at customers not to go in and two police
officers were stationed inside.

They were among hundreds of people who took part at locations throughout
New York, activists said. Similar strikes were planned across the country
this week, organized by the national Fast Food Forward campaign, which was
launched last year to tackle stagnating wages and the proliferation of
low-wage jobs as the nation recovers from the recession, said campaign
director Jonathan Westin.

"The workers' actions will lift up all of New York City," he said. "If
they have more money in their pockets, they'll spend it right here,
helping to boost the entire economy."

Doubling the minimum wage would have a "significant effect on the private
sector's ability to create jobs, especially those typically filled by
first-time workers and teens," said Scott DeFife of the National
Restaurant Association. McDonald's had directed requests for comment to
the trade group.

Spokesmen for Burger King and Wendy's both said they respect the rights of
their workers.

"We're proud that Wendy's provides a place where thousands of people with
different backgrounds and education levels can enter the workforce," said
Wendy's spokesman Bob Bertini.

Glenda Soto, 35, a single mother supporting four children said that though
she works full-time and often puts in 13-hour days at the Bronx
McDonald's, money is a constant headache.

"My rent is going up in September," she said. "We are already living
paycheck to paycheck."

Many workers brought their families with them, including children.

"We're a movement, we're a team," Sepulveda said as she held the hand of
her 3-year-old son, Hayden.

The striking workers in Manhattan were joined by politicians and community
leaders, including U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat who represents the
district. He said the fact that the fast food industry is worth $200
billion a year and yet many of its employees still rely on food stamps and
Medicaid is "disgusting."

Ashley Pinkney, who works at McDonald's in Times Square, arrived at the
downtown rally still in her uniform.

"I can't even order something off the menu with what I earn," she said.
"It makes me wonder what I'm even doing there."

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