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The 'Fight for 15' Grows: Fast Food Worker Strike Hits Detroit

Hundreds of workers walk off jobs on Friday in latest action decrying low-wage jobs, as movement shows no signs of abating

In what could be the largest strike of its kind, hundreds of fast food workers in Detroit have walked off their jobs on Friday, echoing the rallying cry heard across the country that the workers deserve $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation.

Friday's strike in Detroit comes on the heels of a similar actions in other cities—Wednesday and Thursday in St. Louis, and in Chicago and New York City last month.

The strike has affected 60 restaurants including McDonald’s, where one management strategy to deal with the strike completely backfired.

Photo: Detroit15

Ned Resnikoff writes at All In With Chris Hayes' blog, and various accounts on Twitter attest, that the management at one McDonald's tried to bring in replacement workers for the ones on strike—only the replacement workers decided to join the strike as well.

As The Nation's Josh Eidelson, who's been reporting on the wave of fast food worker strikes, has noted,

...the fate of the fast food strike wave carries far-reaching implications: Fast food jobs are a growing portion of our economy, and fast food-like conditions are proliferating in other sectors as well. Organizers say the fast food industry now employs twice as many Detroit-area workers as the city’s iconic auto industry. These strikes also come at a moment of existential crisis for the labor movement, a sobering reality that was brought into sharp relief in December when Michigan, arguably the birthplace of modern US private sector unionism, became the country’s latest “Right to Work” state.

Resnikoff also points out the significance of the strike in Michigan:

...this strike takes place in the unique context of Michigan labor politics: Once an historic stronghold for the country’s manufacturing unions, the the state now has “right-to-work” laws on the books and a Republican state government which is deeply hostile to organized labor. The Detroit strike is the first such action to occur within a right-to-work state.

Detroit is also the latest city to be put under emergency management by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration. Under Michigan law, emergency managers (EMs) in cash-strapped cities and school districts have the power to overrule local authorities on virtually all policy matters, and the ability to unilaterally rewrite or nullify contracts with public sector unions. In other Michigan localities, EMs have used this power to lay off civil servants, privatize local industry, and force public sector unions to accept sharp wage and benefit cuts.



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