Thousands of fast food workers went on strike in branches across seven U.S. cities on Monday in what could be the largest strike of its kind in U.S. history.
The workers are protesting unlivable wages and are calling for a nationwide living wage of $15 dollars an hour.
"A lot of the workers are living in poverty, you know, not being able to afford to put food on the table or take the train to work," said Jonathan Westin, director of Fast Food Forward, who has been organizing fast-food workers in New York City.
On Monday morning walkouts began in branches of McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, Domino's, Wendy's and other restaurants across Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, St Louis, Kansas City, and Flint, Michigan, as well as New York City.
A large rally is now expected at New York's Union Square at 2pm.
"The workers are striking over the fact that they can't continue to maintain their families on the wages they're being paid in the fast food industry," said Westin.
The average fast food worker in New York makes $8.25 per hour, with $11,000 being the national yearly average while the national minimum wage remains at a staggering $7.25.
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According to Fast Food Forward, fast food workers in New York City only make 25% of the money they need to survive. Meanwhile the average daily salary of the CEOs of those same fast food chains amounts to $25,000 per day on average—over two times what the average worker makes in one year.
Fast Food Forward has organized alongside New York Communities for Change, Jobs with Justice and Action Now with backing from The Service Employees International Union.
"Workers hope to draw attention to a range of issues from low wages to wage theft to McDonald’s recently released budget calculator that insulted and angered many employees struggling to survive on fast food wages," writes Allison Kilkenny at the Nation.
“The more and more workers continue to take action and continue to publicize their fight,” Westin told Salon, “the more and more it starts to get at the fast food industry’s biggest asset, which is their name brand. And I think that’s what we’re beginning to see in a very real way."
“I know you’re tired of suffering,” KFC employee Naquasia LeGrand had told fellow workers at a rally last Wednesday to announce the strike. “I don’t want to see the next generation suffering and suffering. I don’t want my kids suffering. I want to make sure they have a better future than I do.”
“So if I want that to happen, I need you guys to stand with me just as long as I’m standing with you.”