Good Economy? Thank Fast-Food Workers

Generic image (Thinkstock)
Generic image (Thinkstock)

Fast-food workers feel overworked and underpaid, according to a piece at the New York Times, but the news is that several of these low-wage workers in the New York metropolitan area are not afraid to speak up about their experiences in an effort to push for change.


Last week a City Council fact-finding panel listened to employees from chains like Wendy's, Papa John's and KFC describe their work conditions and salaries. It's a complex issue for local politics because New York and New Jersey's economies have strengthened because these low-wage positions are on the rise:

The economic comebacks of New York, of New Jersey and of so many states ride piggyback on the growth of low-wage jobs, on the hiring of those who dip French fries in boiling oil and pull flesh off the bones of factory chickens.

Fast-food businesses have added 25,000 jobs in New York in the past decade. Last week I sat in a low-ceiling City Council hearing room and listened and squirmed as fast-food workers — the Wendy’s hamburger slinger, the Papa John’s bike delivery man, the woman who mops floors in KFC — recounted the prosaic facts of their lives for a fact-finding panel …

The apostles of our new economy advise us that the middle and working classes need to “retool,” to learn new skills, to become more productive. Yes, well, O.K. When, where and with what time and whose money?

There is good news to be heard here. Workers who earn minimum wage realize their employers have no real hold on their tongues…

A great ferment brews. The car washers of the Bronx and Brooklyn have voted to form unions, as have security guards at Kennedy Airport. Twice in the past nine months, fast-food workers — with the aid of Fast Food Forward, a community organizing and labor coalition — have rallied and demanded higher wages and an end to wage theft.

How this ends is uncertain. American labor law is a beaten cur. Strikes are risky, and fast-food corporations are well-heeled adversaries. The current campaigns hope to embarrass these corporations.


Read more at the New York Times. 

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