“You can’t survive on $7.25!”
That was one of the loud rallying cries Thursday at the NYC strike of fast-food workers pushing for a minimum wage of $15 an hour and the right to unionize. Strikes occurred in more than 50 U.S. cities as increasingly frustrated low-wage workers sought to convince the public and employers that their paychecks are woefully inadequate.
In Manhattan, hundreds of workers gathered at a downtown Wendy’s and Burger King, and then outside a McDonald’s near the Empire State Building, with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn joining the protest.
The day ended at Union Square, site of the first Labor Day parade and a historic gathering place for justice seekers. There, Brooklyn city councilwoman and public advocate candidate Letitia James presided over a series of speakers that included mayoral candidates Quinn, Bill de Blasio, John Liu, Bill Thompson and Anthony Weiner as well as clergy, fast-food workers, politicians and union leaders, all expressing support for burger slingers.
While fast-food workers’ salaries have stagnated, “CEO salaries have gone up 127 times over the past 30 years,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney.
Martina May, 27, of Harlem, walked off her job at a Penn Station Taco Bell to go on strike. “Two months ago, I got a raise to $8, but I’ve been there five years,” she said.
Domino’s Pizza deliveryman Sixto Taveras, 59, a father of six, said he “cannot make it, no way!” even with overtime.
“The last two weeks I worked 89 hours,” Taveras said. “Do you know how much I took home? $502. That’s what I get to pay rent, food, shoes for my daughter and my wife.”