Protesters, many of them employees at Wendy's fast-food restaurant, demonstrate outside of one of the restaurants to demand higher pay and the right to form a union.
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A lead organizer claimed "hundreds" of fast food workers across New York City were walking off the job on Thursday, in what experts are calling the first multi-restaurant strike by fast food workers in the country.
"No more lies, Hold the fries," shouted a few dozen protesters outside a Burger King [BKW 16.84 0.30 (+1.81%) ] by Penn Station on Thursday, bundled up against a brisk New York November day - at least half of whom appeared to be organizers, as opposed to workers. "Supersize our wages," they chanted.
Short protests are popping up at over two dozen fast food restaurants across the city throughout the day, according to Jonathan Westin, the organizing director of New York Communities for Change, which has spearheaded the effort.
The action involves workers from McDonald's[MCD 86.49 0.74 (+0.86%) ], YUM! Brands[YUM 74.47 0.58 (+0.78%) ] (which operates Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC),Wendy's [WEN 4.68 -0.01 (-0.21%) ], Domino's, and Papa John's [PZZA 52.88 0.58 (+1.11%) ], demanding better wages, union recognition, and an end to the retaliation against workers who attempt to organize. A campaign called Fast Food Forward is driving the strike, supported by various community and civil rights groups.
Unionizing fast-food restaurants has been a pipe-dream for many organizers and workers, but with the industry so vast, and turnover so high, a large-scale orchestrated strike was a fearsome challenge.
"It's a fairly high-turnover position, so there's never been a successful union effort," Domino's Pizza [DPZ 42.00 0.21 (+0.5%) ] spokesman Tim McIntrye told The Times. "People who are doing this part time, seasonally or as they work their way through college don't find much interest in membership."
But 40 full-time campaign organizers, funded by New York Communities for Change, have been working behind the scenes in recent months. While Walmart organizers courted the media in the lead-up to their Black Friday protests, the fast food organizers have been building their ranks more stealthily. "The workers wanted to come out with a bang," Westin told AOL [AOL 37.66 0.70 (+1.89%) ] Jobs, adding that both the Walmart [WMT 70.83 0.27 (+0.38%) ] strikes and the Occupy movement had been inspirations for their action.
Source: CNBC | AOL