IN NEW WAVE OF WALKOUTS, FAST-FOOD STRIKERS GAIN MOMENTUM

By
Courtesy of the Associated Press

c.2013 New York Times News Service

Fast-food workers went on strike in more than 50 cities on Thursday, with the wave of one-day walkouts extending to the South and the West for the first time, spreading to Atlanta, Los Angeles, Memphis, Tenn., and Raleigh, N.C.

The strike’s organizers estimated that some employees walked out at nearly 1,000 restaurants. The workers, many of whom earn the $7.25-an-hour federal minimum wage, are demanding a raise to $15 an hour.

The walkouts at McDonald’s, Burger King and other chains have mushroomed from a month ago, when they took place in seven cities — all part of the first-ever wave of strikes by American fast-food workers.

“People can’t survive on the minimum wage,” said Roberto Tejada, an $8-an-hour striker at a Taco Bell in Los Angeles. “Nobody who works full time should live in poverty.”

“The mood was really powerful today,” he added. “Everyone was out there singing chants.” One chant was “Keep your burger. Keep your fries. We want our wages supersized.”

Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez pointed to the strikes as evidence that the federal minimum wage should be increased. President Barack Obama has proposed a $9 minimum hourly wage, but many Republicans have denounced the idea, saying it would eliminate jobs.

While the strikes have gathered momentum, it remains unclear — and many say doubtful — whether the strikers can persuade restaurant chains to raise pay to $15 an hour. The strike’s organizers have discussed whether to try to persuade various city councils to pass a $15-an-hour minimum wage for workers at fast-food restaurants.