Workers At Three S. Florida Fast Food Restaurants To Protest Low Wages
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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Workers at three South Florida fast food restaurants plan to join the nationwide protest over low wages.
Organizers say walkouts are planned in 100 cities on Thursday, with rallies set for another 100 cities. But it’s not clear what the actual turnout will be, how many of the participants are workers and what impact they’ll have on restaurant operations.
Workers at the McDonald’s on Okeechobee Road in West Palm Beach, at the Wendy’s on W State Road 84 in Ft. Lauderdale and at the McDonald’s on Lincoln Road in Miami are expected to take part in the walkout.
Organizers of the South Florida protests say there is support for the growing movement to raise the wage for fast food jobs to $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation.
However, the push for higher pay in the fast-food industry faces an uphill battle. The industry competes aggressively on value offerings and companies have warned that they would need to raise prices if wages were hiked.
Most fast-food locations are also owned and operated by franchisees, which lets companies such as McDonald’s Corp., Burger King Worldwide Inc. and Yum Brands Inc. say that they don’t control worker pay.
However, labor advocates have pointed out that companies control many other aspects of restaurant operations through their franchise agreements, including menus, suppliers and equipment.
Fast-food workers have historically been seen as difficult to unionize, given the industry’s high turnover rates. But the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 2 million workers in health care, janitorial and other industries, has been providing considerable organizational and financial support to the push for higher pay over the past year.
Fast food is a $200 billion a year industry, yet many service workers across the country earn minimum wage or just above it and are forced to rely on public assistance programs to provide for their families and get healthcare for their children.
At a time when there’s growing national and international attention on economic disparities, labor unions, worker advocacy groups and Democrats are hoping to build public support to raise the federal minimum wage of $7.25, or about $15,000 a year for full-time work.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has promised a vote on the wage hike by the end of the year. But the measure is not expected to gain traction in the House, where Republican leaders oppose it.
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