Economy

Largest-Ever Strike Hits Fast Food Industry In 230 Cities

CREDIT: AP/Steven Senne

Fast food workers and other protesters in Boston

On Wednesday, fast food workers walked off the job in 230 cities, staging the largest-ever strike in their movement aimed at a $15 minimum wage and the right to form a union.

The movement began with a single strike in New York City at the end of 2012 but has grown increasingly larger as the Fight for 15 movement has staged nine other days of coordinated strikes since then. Wednesday’s actions took place in cities on both coasts, the south, and the midwest, and it even went global, with strikes in Italy and New Zealand.

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CREDIT: Dylan Petrohilos/ThinkProgress

While McDonald’s recently announced that it will raise base wages at the locations it operates directly — about 10 percent of its stores — organizers have said that it doesn’t go far enough and they’re still pushing for a $15 wage. But that wage level has taken hold in some places, with Seattle and San Francisco passing $15 minimum wages and other cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Portland, OR, and Washington, DC considering the same. Some states might even adopt that minimum wage. Research has found that the fast food industry could absorb a $15 minimum wage without having to resort to cutting jobs.

Meanwhile, states have been raising their minimum wages, if not to the $15 level, and a majority now have a higher wage than the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. And Congressional Democrats have raised their sights from pushing for a $10.10 federal wage to a $12 an hour one.

The Fight for 15 movement has also spread past the fast food industry. Home care workers, Walmart employees, adjunct professors, and others joined protests around Wednesday’s actions and have called for a $15 minimum wage of their own. Walmart workers have been staging repeated strikes against their employer demanding at least $25,000 a year and the ability to form a union.