Whatever it takes. That’s what fast-food workers are vowing to do as the fight for $15 and the right to form a union goes into its next stage.
This weekend, Boston-area fast-food workers are heading to Chicago to join more than a thousand workers from across the country in planning the next steps of a campaign that has highlighted the vast economic inequality that is gripping the country.
During the convention workers will engage in leadership trainings, strategize about how to escalate the campaign and share their experiences leading the fight for better pay.
“I’m traveling to Chicago to meet with my fellow fast-food workers to plan the next stage of our campaign because the fast-food companies continue to ignore us,” said Kayla Sutton, a local Dunkin Donuts employee. “We work hard, and we’re trying to make it in this economy, but can’t simply can’t on the wages they pay us. I’m not just fighting for myself, but for my daughter as well.”
Since New York City fast-food workers first walked off their jobs in November 2012, the workers’ campaign has spread to every corner of the country – and the globe – and helped spur historic campaigns to raise the minimum wage.
Fast-food workers in Boston joined the national fight in August 2013, and since then, there have held strikes and protests throughout the city at multitude of fast-food locations including McDonald’s, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Popeye’s and KFC.
“It’s been almost a year since fast-food workers in Boston joined the national fight,” said Kyle King, a Burger King worker who’s been on the front lines since the beginning. “In that time, we’ve had strikes and protests. The movement in Boston, and the nation, has grown. And we’re not going away, not until fast-food companies pay us $15 an hour and let us form a union.”
Tapping into the national discussion about income disparity, fast-food workers’ calls for $15 have sparked initiatives to raise pay in cities and states across the country. Seattle recently passed a $15 minimum wage; San Francisco voters are expected to approve a $15 minimum wage, which is backed by the city’s business community; and here in Massachusetts, the legislature passed the highest statewide minimum wage in the country at $11 an hour.
Even as local and state governments respond to the Fight for $15 movement, the workers’ attention remains fixed on getting the $200 billion fast-food industry to raise wages and respect their right to form a union, without retaliation.
And they are not going to give up.
For more information, go to lowpayisnotok.org. Follow the action in Chicago this weekend, using the #fightfor15 hashtag on Twitter and Facebook.