April 5, 2013
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY - Fast food workers from throughout the five boroughs rallied against unsustainably low-wages on Thursday, invoking the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s fight for economic justice 45 years ago. (Watch Video)
“Today’s the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination and we’re still fighting for what he was fighting for,” fast food worker Chad Tall said. “He got cut a little bit short, but we’re going to keep it going.”
Demonstrators targeted a number of fast food joints in the city. One of the most vocal fast food worker rallies took place outside the Wendy’s restaurant located at 259 West 34th Street. This, despite a deal struck in Albany last week to nudge the current $7.25-an-hour minimum wage to $9-an-hour over the next three years.
Many low-wage restaurant workers who put in long hours and still cannot make it without some form of supplemental support, are unhappy with that marginal increase, and are instead calling for a new minimum wage of at least $15-an-hour.
The deal worked out in Albany also does not include workers who rely on tips.
Even though she works almost 40 hours-a-week at the 42nd Street McDonald's, Jeska Harris said she often has to choose between which bills to pay each month because she simply can’t cover them all.
“Should I pay my phone bill, or does my son need diapers?” Harris said. “I would prefer a minimum wage of $15-an-hour because the rent they charge in New York is too much.”
Last Noveber, NYC fast food workers staged a one-day strike in the hopes of obtaining a livable minimum wage that’s also tied to inflation.
In 1968, slain civil rights champion Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot just before taking part in a march in support of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. At that time, low-paid sanitation workers independently called a strike to protest unlivable wages, as well as a long list of other on-the-job abuses and indignities.
“It’s hard,” said McDonald’s worker Elizabeth Rene. “They’re not making things easy - they never have. They take our hardships for granted all the time. We deserve more respectable wages - $7.25 is just not cutting it.”