Would You Cross a Picket Line for a Quarter-Pounder?

Aug 23, 2013 at 2:28 pm

In a hush-hush meeting at Cobo last week, fast food workers and union organizers from across the country planned strikes they said would hit at least 15 cities August 29.

Organizers said 500 Detroit fast food toilers had already struck May 10, part of a wave of walkouts that have hit eight cities thus far, demanding $15 an hour and a union.

Contrary to the image, fast food workers are not all teenagers. All the ones I interviewed on a west-side Popeye's picket line in May were single moms in their 20s, living on $7.40 an hour.

Turned out McDonald’s worker Aunyetta Crosby, 25, lived a few blocks from me. Asked why she came out, she said, “I want to get the minimum wage up so we can all live comfortably,” including her nearly-two-year-old daughter and her mom, who’s worked at KFC for 14 years, always just above minimum wage. Her mom has gotten raises only when legislators raised the minimum, Crosby said.

Her $7.40 is way under the national median wage for fast food cooks, cashiers and crew: $8.94. And the line pushed by management that their entry-level jobs are steppingstones to better ones is nonsense: manager jobs are just 2.2% of the $200 billion a year industry.

We work too hard to be paid minimum wage,” said Popeye’s worker Wontika Reed, 23.

Mike Illitch has been showing anti-union videos to his Little Caesar's workers, according to one burger-slinger active in the campaign. He hoped Illitch was vulnerable to pressure right now because of all the corporate welfare he's about to receive to build another stadium downtown.

The local campaign is called D-15 and is run by Good Jobs Now, the local coalition led by the Service Employees union.

If you're planning on stopping for a Pepsi or a bite at McDonald's, Popeye's, Taco Bell, Burger King, Long John Silver's, or Little Caesar's next Thursday, look for the picket line, and drive on.