Thousands of fast food workers will go on strike in 150 cities on May 15, according to Salon’s Josh Eidelson.
That will include some cities that haven’t been home to fast food strikes before, such as Philadelphia, Miami, Orlando, and Sacramento. Organizers also expect hundreds of workers to go on strike in some cities like Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and New York City. The strikes will be the largest in the industry yet after they hit 100 cities in December and 50 in August last year.
The day will also mark the first spread of fast food labor unrest abroad, as it will include protests in 30 other countries on six continents, many of them targeting McDonald’s. Activists will hold a teach-in outside of the company’s head office in New Zealand and shut down a major location in Belgium during the lunch hour. Protests will crop up in cities from London to Bangkok and countries from India to Nigeria. Then Italian fast food workers in Milan, Rome, and Venice will go on strike the next day.
American fast food workers have been walking out in protest of low wages and poor working conditions since late 2012, when 200 went on strike in New York City in the first strike to ever hit the industry. The demands have remained constant: $15 an hour at minimum and the right to form a union. Since that initial action in New York City, the strikes have quickly spread across the country, starting in the northeast but moving to the midwest and south. Workers also recently filed seven class-action lawsuits against McDonald’s in March alleging a widespread practice of cheating them out of the pay that they are owed.
The sector has been booming since the recession, but the median wage is only $8.85. And that’s if they get their full pay. Wage theft of the sort alleged against McDonald’s is widespread in the industry, experienced by nearly 90 percent of workers. While some argue that the jobs are meant as a way for teenagers to earn extra money and gain work experience, workers between the ages of 25 and 54 hold the largest share of fast food jobs, and more than a quarter are supporting a child. Meanwhile, they are not the kind of jobs that give people a leg up toward advancement: while a third of the workforce ends up in managerial, professional, or supervisory jobs, less than 9 percent of fast food employees will make it to supervisor and just 2.2 percent are in managerial, professional, or technical roles.