Fast Food workers at chains like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King are striking in the city today, and Salon’s Josh Eidelson has a very good piece about it:
Jose Cerillo, a 79-year-old who cleans tables and floors at a New York McDonald’s, told Salon he was suspended by the company on Monday after signing up co-workers on the campaign petition. According to Cerillo, management said the punishment was for violating a “no solicitation” policy. “They feel threatened because I’m organizing,” said Cerillo (he was interviewed in Spanish). He said he circulated the petition during break times and outside of work.
Cerillo said he got involved after receiving a phone call from an organizer at home a few months ago. “I was so happy,” he said. Cerillo, who has been working at a series of McDonald’s locations since 1996, said he makes $7.40 an hour, 15 cents above minimum wage. “It’s just not enough to live.”
Workers want to unionize and raise their pay from minimum wage to $15 an hour, but it would be more likely that companies would negotiate that figure down—if they’re willing to negotiate at all. Cerillo, the worker described in the excerpt, has only been able to convince three out of 40 coworkers to sign his petition because he says most people are afraid that participating will cause them to lose their jobs. It’s unclear what will come of this initial strike, but the workers have found some support from some customers. “If anybody deserves to unionize, it’s fast food workers,” one customer said.