In New York City on Thursday, several hundred fast-food workers will honor the memory of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr., by staging a hunger strike. Only the workers won’t be the ones fasting.
On [the, sic] 45th anniversary of the day that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated while supporting a sanitation workers strike in Memphis, non-unionized New York fast food workers said they expected about 400 colleagues to walk out on their jobs, double the number who did so in November.
The November work action at the time was the largest strike ever conducted by fast food workers, The New York Times reported.
The strike is supported by several groups, including Fast Food Forward, New York Communities for Change, UnitedNY.org, the Black Institute, the Service Employees International Union and local clergy, the Times said.
Most of the city’s fast-food workers, which number around 50,000, earn the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour — and most will be on the job today, making the demonstration largely token. The same may be said of the strikers’ demands, which is that the current pay rate be more than doubled, to $15 per hour.
UPI’s writers quote several of the participants in the walkout. One of them is Tabitha Verges, who works at a Burger King in Harlem and has not seen a raise in four years. When she has asked for one, she says, “They always give me the same excuse — that they’re not making enough money.”
Another protestor is Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change, who told reporters:
We believe that it’s a continuation of a civil rights fight against low wages and for Martin Luther King’s movement to win dignity and living-wage jobs.
New York State lawmakers recently raised the minimum wage to $9 per hour, but that new rate does not take effect until 2016.
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