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Fast-food workers striking in New York City in July of 2013. (Photo: Annette Bernhardt)

Fast Food Worker Strikes and Direct Actions to Sweep Country

"We are prepared to take arrests to show our commitment to the growing fight for $15."

Sarah Lazare

Fast food workers are planning to launch strikes in 150 cities across the U.S. on Thursday, to demand a $15 minimum wage, the right to organize in the workplace, and an end to the wage theft that plagues the industry.

Sit-ins are also planned for more than a dozen locations, according to numerous media reports. Workers from McDonald’s to Burger King to Wendy’s to KFC are expected to be joined by thousands of home healthcare workers, as well as other supporters, with organizers saying they ultimately hope to build a movement of low-wage workers.

“On Thursday, we are prepared to take arrests to show our commitment to the growing fight for $15,” said Terrence Wise, a Burger King employee in Kansas City, Missouri, and a member of the fast-food workers’ national organizing committee, according to the New York Times.

The day of protest is being organized by coalitions, including Fast Food Forward and Fight for 15, as well as the Service Employees International Union, which has more than 2 million members.

Thursday's escalation will come on the heels of a recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board that McDonald's can be held liable for labor violations at its franchises. The fast food giant had repeatedly tried to side-step criticisms from workers by claiming it has no say over working conditions and wages at franchised restaurants.

Since launching nearly two years ago, the fast food workers' strikes have forced the demands of low-wage workers to center stage amid the ongoing expansion of poor-paying jobs, which are outpacing higher-wage ones.

On Monday during a Labor Day speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, President Barack Obama vocalized his support for the "millions of people" who are organizing for a higher minimum wage. But critics charge that the president, who has seen economic inequality rise to record levels during his tenure, should be pushing for far higher than a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour.

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