#StrikeFastFood: Burger King Workers Walk Off Job in Tucson (video)

Strike Fast Food

Strike Fast FoodNationwide fast food workers are striking for a $15/hour wage.

Early this morning, workers at an east side Tucson Burger King walked off the job and joined supporters, faith leaders, a few Democratic Party elected politicians, and members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) outside. Approximately 60 people protested in front of the Burger King before boarding a bus for Phoenix to join striking fast food workers there. Unlike the McDonald’s protest last December when there was heavy police presence, there were no counter protesters today and only 2 friendly police officers.

SEIU has held multiple actions at fast food restaurants over the past year. The union and fast food workers have won important gains in their quest for better wages.

This summer, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that McDonalds is responsible for “wage theft”. The NLRB also recently ruled that Jimmy John’s couldn’t fire strikers who were protesting the lack of sick pay.  More details and images after the jump.

Strike Fast FoodMore on the McDonald’s story from the Bay State Banner

Boston fast-food workers rallied July 30 at a local McDonald’s, calling on the $5.6 billion company to “stop hiding behind its franchisees,” pay its workers $15 an hour and respect their right to form a union without retaliation. This comes after the National Labor Relations Board said Tuesday that McDonald’s plays a critical role in employment decisions at its restaurants, despite the fast-food giant’s repeated assertions to the contrary.

The move by the NLRB general counsel to consider McDonald’s a joint employer with its franchisees paves the way for cases alleging illegal activity by McDonald’s, not just its franchisees, to proceed in Boston.

Strike Fast Food
SEIU statewide leader Maya Castillo (left) with one of the striking Burger King workers.

Waving signs reading “Who’s the Boss? McDonald’s.” and “Boston Stands with Fast Food Workers” and chanting, “You can’t run. You can’t hide. Make our wages supersized,” fast-food workers and faith and community supporters rallied outside the McDonald’s on Tremont Street across from the Boston Common.

“The goal of this campaign is to have fast food workers paid $15 per hour and to have the right to unionize,” said Reginald Zimmerman,
a spokesperson for MASSUniting, a coalition of community groups, faith organizations and labor that helped organize the rally. “They’re going to continue fighting until that happens.”

McDonald’s has repeatedly asserted that it does not control employment decisions at its franchised restaurants. But the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel said Tuesday that the $5.6 billion company is indeed a joint employer that exerts substantial power over its employees’ working conditions. [More here.]

Fast food workers and others in the restaurant business are paid very little (minimum wage or less if you earn tips) and have no sick pay or vacation pay, resulting in them going to work sick. Jimmy John’s strikers were demanding sick pay and suggested that restaurant-goers might become ill because sick workers can’t afford to stay home without pay. [More about Jimmy John’s here.]

Before you start feeling sorry for poor Burger King, their CEO is paid $5 million per year, and several other officers make over $1 million per year. McDonald’s and Starbuck’s CEOs both make $9200/hour; I think they can afford $15/hour for workers. Check out the table here for more obscene CEO salaries.

It’s time to pay workers more– so the rest of us don’t have to subsidize the low-paid workers and the multinational corporations through government handouts. Why should taxpayers subsidize greedy employers by providing food stamps and other benefits to people who should be making a living wage?



  1. I hope they are successful in achieving the $15 per hour, sick leave and vacation pay despite the negative effects it will have in the long run. Having taken Economics 101 in college, I know that it will accelerate inflation and they will soon lose ground in the buying power of their new wage. But at least for a little while, they will enjoy a better standard of living.

    Or will they enjoy a better standard of living? I really don’t know. How many government benefits will they lose with the new wage? If they gain $7.50 an hour in pay, but lose $7.50 an hour in food stamps, health care, subsidized housing, etc., have they really gained anything? Granted they are no longer dependent on the Government for handouts, which is good, but have they actually gained anything? Just something to think about…

    • I think all of the Tea Party Republicans who fought to cut $40 billion from food stamps over the past year ought to be leaning on their corporate buddies to cough up a living wage for their American workers and forget about off-shoring our jobs. (Like that’s going to happen.)

      McDonald’s, Walmart, Burger King, and the other multinational corporations, who rely on minimum wage workers but pay the top brass millions of dollars per year, should remember Henry Ford’s lesson. He bucked the robber baron trend and paid his workers enough to buy his product. And look what happened.

      • As I said, I wish them all the best in getting what they want, and I mean that seriously. But there is often unintended consequences of getting what you want and this is one of the situations where it will almost certainly be the case.

        It is ironic you should mention Henry Ford and his $5 a day program because that is exactly what I am talking about with unintended consequences. His was the first auto plant that tried to unionize because of discontent of his workers. Ford was not a philanthropist and for that $5 a day, his workers became virtual slaves. They were fired if they hurt themselves, they were fired if they slowed down the assemply line, they were fired if they got sick and didn’t come into work, they got no vacation time, they worked 6 days a week from sun up to sun down, the litany of complaints went on and on. When the workers tried to unionize, Ford brought in scabs and hired thugs to beat up the strikers. Eventually several of the striking workers were killed by the thugs. That $5 a day came at a steep cost.

    • Right on Steve. Although I hope they DONT get it. Fact is they will not. The fact is the cost of that sloppy unhealthy food will go up to pay them. When that happens people will not buy it then they will be out of work altogether.

      • Yes, that is another unintended consequence of $15 an hour for fast food workers. And no Union will keep them in business when no one buys the overpriced product. I have already noticed that a trip to McDonalds is almost as expensive as a trip to Chili’s, or Red Robin, or any moderately priced restaurant in town. I have already cut back on fast food chains because I prefer the food and the ambience of better restaurants for only a few dollars more. Give them $15 an hour and they will wind up on the unemployment line. But you can’t tell them that…it is another dead and prize that will get them nowhere. It is killing the goose that laid the golden eggs all over again.

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