Last Thursday, workers in nearly 60 separate cities walked off their fast food restaurant jobs to protest for better wages and the right to organize unions, the largest number of such strikes in a day. Organizers and workers hope the August 29 strikes marked a tipping point in a campaign that kicked off last November in New York City. Watch the strikes spread across the country in this map created by ThinkProgress:
The strikes have spread rapidly throughout the country: first to northern cities, then to the midwest and the south. Fast food workers represent both a huge potential opportunity to organize workers, with millions of people who feed tens of millions of Americans every day, and a compelling economic cause, as their wages have stagnated despite constantly accelerating profits for fast food companies. The strikes come at a time when the labor movement has watched its membership sag and its power weaken for decades. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is committing “substantial resources and manpower into growing the spontaneous fast food strikes from a local phenomenon to a national campaign,” MSNBC’s Ned Resnikoff wrote on Labor Day.
Pushing the industry’s workers out of poverty would provide huge economic benefits for the entire country. But the economic arguments for bringing the minimum wage back up to the same level of buying power it had 45 years ago have thus far failed to spur Congressional action. Activists and workers hope to continue the momentum of the past nine months, with both federally contracted low-wage workers continuing to strike in Washington D.C., and Walmart employees in 15 major cities planning protests later this week.