Fast food workers in Milwaukee, Wis., became the latest to join a nation-wide movement for a living wage by walking off the job on Wednesday and calling for both an increase in wages and the recognition of their right to form a union free from employer harassment or retaliation. Hundreds of workers joined the walkout, leaving restaurants like McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Old Country Buffet and Popeye's. A rally is scheduled for Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. at the Milwaukee County Courthouse.
Across the country, low-wage workers at McDonald's, KFC, Jimmy John’s and other service-sector jobs are joining together to improve wages and working conditions for the entire industry. This growing movement is one of the largest grassroots workplace mobilizations in recent history. Recently, workers in New York City, Chicago, St. Louis and Detroit went on strike, demanding a minimum wage of $15 an hour and the right to form a union free from employer harassment and retaliation.
Construction workers and others in the Austin, Texas, area are celebrating a coalition victory this week after Travis County commissioners approved a first-ever economic development policy that includes a living wage requirement.
The policy requires contractors asking for tax incentives to move into the county to pay all employees at least $11 per hour. It’s a significant improvement over the prevailing construction hourly wage of $7.50.
Here’s a look at a number of other key working-family races and ballot issues from yesterday’s elections.
In several U.S. Senate races where Republican, corporate and super PAC cash looked like it would make the difference, union members’ get-out-the-vote activism and votes helped push working-family candidates to victory. Democrats now have 55 senate seats. Elizabeth Warren defeated Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts. Tim Kaine beat George Allen in Virginia. Rep. Tammy Baldwin overcame Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, Sen. Jon Tester defeated challenger Rep. Denny Rehberg in Montana and Sen. Sherrod Brown won over Josh Mandel in Ohio. Other Senate wins include Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).
When workers earn a living wage, the entire community benefits, says Jorge Sanchez, a Long Beach, Calif., hotel worker who is part of a coalition of workers, community activists and small business owners working to pass a living wage ordinance in the city.
With a living wage, we can support small businesses and we can spend more in the community. Small businesses are the backbone of the community and if we have more money, we can support them.
More than a dozen students at the University of Virginia are the 11th day of a hunger strike organized by the Living Wage at UVA campaign. The students are demanding a living wage, safer working conditions and better job security for university and university contracted workers, some of whom make just $7.25 an hour.
Jenya Cassidy of the Labor Project for Working Families writes that working people don’t just need jobs—they need jobs that pay a living wage and that allow parents to support and nuture their families.
When I was in high school and college, I worked in restaurants. I worked for minimum wage and I worked hard—cleaning, cooking, even counting money and making bank deposits. I remember my pay going from $3.35 an hour to $3.45 an hour when I made “head cashier”—a job that carried a lot more responsibility than a 10-cent raise would imply.
In New York City, Wall Street profits are skyscraper high again, real-estate developers and companies are receiving billions in public subsidies and yet a record number of full-time working New Yorkers are relying on food stamps and emergency food assistance because they do not earn enough to support themselves or their families.