Over 4 million people work in the fast food industry. Contrary to what most people think, these workers are not college or high school students. Most of them are people who are trying to support themselves or a family. They earn about $8.00 an hour, with no benefits. Many of them work two jobs and still cannot make ends meet.

There is a growing movement, starting in New York, for fast food workers to unionize. It is the only way they would ever be able to support their families. I support this movement for a couple reasons. First, I don’t think that it is just for anyone to work full time for wages that are not living wages. Second, I think that after the government destroyed the manufacturing base of America in the late 90’s, the only economic sector left to rescue the middle class was the service industry. If fast food workers can organize then there is hope for the future. 

Unionizing is the only means to re-establish a middle-class. I would be willing to pay more for a Big Mac knowing what it means to the person serving me. 

3 Responses to Solidarity

  1. What drives me crazy is when people lament about not being able to find a job, the stock response is, “Well, you could get a job at McDonald’s if nothing else.” Seriously? How naive! Despite my username, I actually no longer live in NYC because I found a job elsewhere. When I did live in NYC, people kept telling me to try to find a job at McDonald’s or some place where “anyone” can get hired. The reality is that in large cities (and maybe smaller towns too? I really don’t know) fast food places won’t even call you if you have higher education than a high school graduate. What’s that? You can lie on your resume? Sure, but then what do you do when they ask you what you’ve been doing for the past several years? I would have had to lie there, as well, because most of the odd jobs that I held in NYC required more brains than does a fast food job. They weren’t jobs that screamed “SHE HAS A MASTER’S DEGREE!” but they were enough to show potential fast food etc. employers that I would not stick around that long. And really, how DO you lie about what jobs you’ve had, especially when they go looking for references? So lying about your previous employment is out, and why would a McDonald’s in NYC call someone with higher than a high school education when there are millions of other people in the city who don’t? Getting a job at a fast food place (or Starbucks, or Staples, etc.) in the city is more competitive than you’d think.

    And finally, in the small New England town where I live now, you could squeeze by on minimum wage. It would be extraordinarily difficult (you’d probably need a roommate so you could split the rent), but not impossible, as long as you don’t have a family to support. In expensive cities like New York? Forget it, unless you live in government housing that smells like pee (and much of it does; I worked the Census in 2010 and those buildings always had that smell), but even then it would still be impossible.

  2. Organized labor was crushed after the Taft-Hartley Act (1948). It was, in my opinion, the prohibition of the secondary strikes with U.S. District Court injunctions and fines against union and its officers that supported the striking workers (“solidarity”) that sealed the unions’ fate. Additionally, the US Chamber of Commerce deposited in the early 1950s a princely sum of $750,000 with an ad agency. The agency was hired to sell the notion that organized labor was affiliated with organized crime. My source for that is “The Selling of “Free Trade”: NAFTA, Washington, and the Subversion of American Democracy,” by John R. MacArthur.

    Here is a question, would Lech Wallesa’s Solidarność at the Gdańsk Shipyards been tolerated in the United States – the land of the free and the home of the brave?

  3. Rex A. Umney says:

    I worry enough about fast food people spitting in my food as it is now. I can only imagine the attitude these people will develop should a fast food joints become unionized.

    Just imagine complaining about your Bacon Double Cheeseburger plain with only mayo having lettuce, onion and tomato on it. First the guy ringing up the order would say it’s not his department. Then another guy from the back would come out and apologize, handing you a freshly spit on burger made properly. Then of course when you walked out to your car a mob of fast food union thugs would kick your ass in the parking lot.

    And the best part? A .79 cent taco would now cost $1.79 and take three people to make.

    I am not thinking this is a good idea. I think Fast Food restaurants need regulation more than anything! Like mandatory cameras in all of the food preparation areas, stiff fines for people getting caught spitting on or otherwise contaminating food. THIS IS WHATS IMPORTANT!

    There have been lots of times I have been out late and I have no choice but to stop at a fast food restaurant. EVERYONE HAS. But to think of some of the idiots who can be found working in these places and then knowing there is probably not anyone overlooking the people in the back. I think food preparation is very important and the people preparing food in any city or township should be monitored for quality control. Sometimes being able to catch the guy is worth having to eat his spit over the years!

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