Fascism is the union of government with private business against the People.
"To The States, or any one of them, or to any city of The States: Resist much, Obey little; Once unquestioning obedience, at once fully enslaved; Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, ever afterward resumes its liberty." from "Caution" by Walt Whitman

Thursday, November 29, 2012

anti-fascism: Fast Food Workers Union

Fast Food Forward [http://www.fastfoodforward.org/]:

Fast Food Forward is a movement of NYC fast food workers to raise wages and gain rights at work. It is part of the national movement of low-wage workers fighting for a better future. When we make enough to live - instead of barely getting by - our community and economy benefit.
Fast Food Forward joins the momentum of the Black Friday strikes and other low-wage worker struggles to build community engagement, hold corporations and their CEOs accountable, and to raise wages so that all Americans can prosper.
EMAIL [info@fastfoodforward.org]
TWITTER [@fastfoodforward]
FACEBOOK [facebook.com/fastfoodforward]
Fast Food Workers in New York City...
We can't survive on $7.25!
In America, people who work hard should be able to afford basic necessities like groceries, rent, childcare and transportation.
While fast food corporations reap the benefits of record profits, workers are barely getting by— many are forced to be on public assistance despite having a job.
Raising pay for fast food workers will benefit workers and strengthen the overall economy.

2012-11-29 "New York Fast Food Workers Walk Off the Job" Alexandra Bradbury from "Labor Notes"
“Good morning! I’m on strike!” shouted McDonald’s worker Darryl Young on a crowded Manhattan sidewalk at 7 am today, as supporters rallied outside the Madison Avenue fast food outlet where he works. “Wanna know why? $7.25!”
Close on the heels of last week’s high-profile Walmart walkouts, fast food workers across New York City staged a one-day strike today, calling for a raise and an end to anti-union retaliation.
Organizers said hundreds of workers struck at dozens of fast food locations this morning. The action marks the public debut of a cross-company Fast Food Organizing Committee that includes workers from not just McDonald’s but also Burger King, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC, Wendy’s, Domino’s, and Papa John’s.
The idea is to take on the whole fast food industry, which employs 50,000 workers in New York City, said Jonathan Westin, organizing director of the ACORN successor community organization that is supporting the drive, New York Communities for Change.
“A typical campaign is not going to bring Ronald McDonald to the table,” Westin said. “This is dozens of stores around the city with workers going on strike on the same day. That’s the type of organizing that’s needed.”

‘1, 2, 3, 4, Time for You to Pay More’ -
After two years working at McDonald’s, Young is making only $7.25 an hour, New York State’s minimum wage.
That makes it tough to support his two daughters, he said, and many of his co-workers rely on Section 8 housing assistance, welfare, and food stamps to get by, while the corporation they work for makes billions in profit.
That’s why Young joined the organizing committee a couple of months ago. He and a friend have been meeting daily and approaching fellow employees at the store “to see if they want to get down with the union,” he said.
Westin said workers are circulating a petition calling for $15 an hour and the right to unionize without reprisal. The strategy of walking out against retaliation, without first gaining a recognized union, echoes similar recent actions by Walmart retail and warehouse workers.
Management’s counterattack has already begun. McDonald’s employee Diego Delgado, an immigrant from Colombia, said his store’s general manager pulled everyone together for a union-bashing meeting yesterday. Workers huddled for their own meeting outside afterwards.
Speaking through a translator, Delgado explained that his position as a manager (but not a general manager) means he has no steady schedule. He has to cover all shifts, and there are never enough workers—because people keep quitting in frustration at the low wages and demanding work.
Delgado makes just $8.50, after three years working at McDonald’s.
“I’m here for the union,” he said at this morning’s rally.
NYCC has 40 organizers working on the campaign, Westin said. The group has also teamed up with the Retail Wholesale union on recent organizing drives among supermarket and carwash workers.
Westin said his group started taking on these workplace struggles after leaders realized that low-wage jobs were the biggest obstacle keeping its members in poverty. And “in the low-wage industry, fast food dominates,” he said.
In addition to NYCC, the coalition supporting the Fast Food Forward campaign includes the Service Employees union and the advocacy groups United NY and the Black Institute.

‘5, 6, 7, 8, Don’t You Dare Retaliate’ -
Young said he was “a little nervous” to strike today, but he found the courage because of “the struggle every day—waking up and coming to a job I don’t want to do.”
Some fast food workers have already been suspended for union activity, organizers said, and they expect further retaliation in the wake of today’s action.
If that happens, “we have community, labor, and clergy ready to stand up and bring workers back to work,” Westin said.
Irania Sanchez is one such ally. A member of the Latino and working-class community group Make the Road New York, she came to this morning’s rally in part because the fight is personal: it brought her closer to her brother’s memory.
Sanchez’s brother worked at McDonald’s, she explained through a translator. He told her about the abuses workers suffered there: how the job demands were ever-increasing, and people would be fired when they could not handle new tasks, even after years of loyal work.
When her brother grew ill, he was fired, Sanchez said. He later passed away from cancer.
Workers boarded a bus from the Madison Avenue McDonald’s to protest at another fast food location this morning. Rallies were planned at locations around the city throughout the day. Organizers said they expected hundreds to converge at a climactic rally in Times Square this afternoon.
Westin hopes today’s action will inspire more fast food workers to take the same risk that strikers like Young and Delgado are taking.
“Our goal is to galvanize as many workers as possible,” he said. No one is without fear, but “going back and making $7.25 an hour, and not being able to put food on the table, is a much harder thing than striking for better wages.”
[photo caption] Fast food workers rallied outside a Madison Avenue McDonald's early this morning. Hundreds of New Yorkers took part in today's one-day strike, the debut action of a cross-company Fast Food Organizing Committee

2012-11-29 "Historic Fast Food Strike in NYC Fights CEO's for Living Wages; 'We could lift an entire segment of the US population out of poverty'" by "Common Dreams"
Fast food workers across New York City hit the streets today in a strike against the $200 billion fast food industry, which workers charge pays wages so low that many struggle to meet their basic needs [http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/29/nyregion/drive-to-unionize-fast-food-workers-opens-in-ny.html].
The workers who are employed within one of the world's most expensive cities and work in several restaurant chains, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Domino’s and Taco Bell, have been organizing with groups such as Fast Food Forward and many other organizations to fight for livable wages and for the right to unionize.
Their ultimate goal is to raise wages to $15-an-hour from minimum wage pay and to gain recognition for their independent union, the Fast Food Workers Committee [http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/11/mcjobs-should-pay-too-its-time-for-fast-food-workers-to-get-living-wages/265714/].
According to Fast Food Forward, while the fast food industry currently grosses $200 billion annually, and the average daily salary of most fast food CEO's is $25,000, the average fast food worker only makes 11,000 per year, or roughly 25 percent of the money required to survive in NYC.
Organizers say most workers are forced to supplement their income with public assistance. This externalizes business costs onto American taxpayers, while the international corporations run away with multibillion dollar profits.
The strike is the first multi-corporation strike by fast-food workers in US history.
The New York Times reports that the first walkout took place at 6:30 a.m. at a McDonald’s on Madison Avenue and 40th Street. Several dozen workers and supporters, including 14 of the 17 employees scheduled to work the morning shift that day, lined up outside of the restaurant chanting, “Hey, hey, what do you say? We demand fair pay.”
“We don’t get paid for what we do. It really is living in poverty,” Raymond Lopez, 21, an aspiring actor who has worked at McDonald’s for over two years told The Times.
“The fast-food industry employs tens of thousands of workers in New York and pays them poverty wages,” said Jonathan Westin, organizing director at New York Communities for Change. “A lot of them can’t afford to get by. A lot have to rely on public assistance, and taxpayers are often footing the bill because these companies are not paying a living wage."
If successful, the move to unionize will be the first to do so across several fast food chains, and could be the largest of its kind.
"For so long, a lot of labor and other folks have avoided these industries because they thought they were too low wage, too hard to organize, and now our economy has become an economy of mostly low wage service jobs," Westin told the Atlantic [http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/11/mcjobs-should-pay-too-its-time-for-fast-food-workers-to-get-living-wages/265714/].
"It was the same thing when they were organizing factories in the early 1900s. They organized those factories and lifted an entire segment of the population into the middle class. This could happen here. We could lift an entire segment of the US population out of poverty and into the middle class."

Fast Food Forward has more [http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-NYyp89dCE8]:

2012-11-29 "In rare strike, NYC fast-food workers walk out; After a Black Friday action at Wal-Mart, NYC fast-food workers walk out, challenging a nearly union-free industry" by Josh Eidelson

At 6:30 this morning, New York City fast food workers walked off the job, launching a rare strike against a nearly union-free industry. Organizers expect workers at dozens of stores to join the one-day strike, a bold challenge to an industry whose low wages, limited hours and precarious employment typify a growing portion of the U.S. economy.
New York City workers are organizing at McDonald’s, Burger King, Domino’s, KFC, Taco Bell, Wendy’s and Papa John’s. Organizers expect today’s strike to include workers from almost all of those chains, with the largest group coming from McDonald’s; the company did not respond to a request for comment.
But employees were clear about their reasons for walking out. “They’re not paying us enough to survive,” McDonald’s worker Raymond Lopez told Salon in a pre-strike interview. Lopez said he decided to join today’s strike because “This company has enough money to pay us a reasonable amount for all that we do … they’re just not going to give it to us as long as they can get away with it. I think we need to be heard.”
Lopez, a 21-year-old who’s been at McDonald’s for two years, said he makes $8.75 an hour as a shift manager (organizers say this isn’t a supervisory position). He works at McDonald’s and at two other jobs – catering and doing leaf work – while paying off student loans, pursuing an acting career, and helping to support his family.
“Everything we do needs to be fast, needs to be perfect,” said Lopez, and “when you’re actually there for eight hours smiling like you’re on the Miss Universe contest, it’s not easy.” He said McDonald’s supervisors “make us work off the clock all of the time” and “there is a lot of verbal abuse.” Lopez recalled a supervisor telling him, “Hey, if you don’t want me to treat you this way, then give me what I want.’”
New York Communities for Change organizing director Jonathan Westin told Salon the current effort is “the biggest organizing campaign that’s happened in the fast food industry.” A team of 40 NYCC organizers have been meeting with workers for months, spearheading efforts to form a new union, the Fast Food Workers Committee. NYCC organizers and fast food workers have been signing up employees on petitions demanding both the chance to organize a union without retaliation and a hefty raise, from near-minimum wages to $15 an hour.
When an NYCC organizer started meeting with McDonald’s workers across from his store, said Lopez, “It was a little difficult for me to believe that it was going to be possible” to change McDonald’s. “I didn’t pay too much attention to it … it took me two or three meetings to start trusting them.” But as the number of workers meeting with NYCC increased, “my faith in this whole deal grew as well.”
Columbia University political scientist Dorian Warren described companies like McDonald’s as poster children for the ways that “the nature and organization of work have changed” in the United States: “part-time work, contingent work, the inability to have control over one’s schedule … essentially no protections, and even where there’s existing protections, they’re not enforced … They don’t even approach living wage jobs,” and for most workers, “there are absolutely no benefits.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics pegs “Combined Food Service and Preparation Workers, Including Fast Food” as the lowest-paid job category in NYC. State labor department data show the city’s fast food jobs have grown by 55 percent since 2000. Meanwhile, according to a report from the National Employment Law Project, McDonald’s profits have increased 130 percent over four years.
University of Pennsylvania sociologist Robin Leidner said Tuesday that an industry norm in which “virtually everyone is part-time” puts workers in a bind: “No one gets enough hours to trigger the legal protections, and to make them eligible for any health benefits … You can’t earn enough with one job, but given the unpredictability, it’s extremely hard to hold down more than one.” Leidner worked at McDonald’s (with the company’s agreement) as part of the research for her 1993 book “Fast Food, Fast Talk.” She recalled a store manager who “was pretty frank about saying if he had some problem with someone, typically what he’d do is reduce their hours until they got the message. In other words, until they quit.”
Leidner said the jobs are also “very heavily surveilled”: Customers keep workers on their toes, cash registers store instantaneous sales data, managers regulate employees’ expressions, and corporate officials pore over individual stores’ metrics in search of ways to boost profits.
NYC isn’t the only place fast food workers are in revolt. Today’s strike follows a founding convention held earlier this month by an linked organization, the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago. WWOC claims 200-some members in fast food and retail. Its most dramatic actions took place on Black Friday, when workers leafleted and demonstrated at major companies and dropped a banner inside of Macy’s (they also joined pickets in support of local Wal-Mart workers). “We’re getting all the workers together and we’re standing up against CEOs,” said WOCC member Brittany Smith. “Because there’s more workers than there are CEOs.” Smith, a college student who recently quit her job at the retail chain Express and took a similar job at Urban Outfitters, said she now makes $8.75 an hour. “Some of the time I luck out and I can eat two meals a day,” she said. “But most of the time, I’m eating one.”
Like FFWC in New York, WOCC is a new independent union made up of workers tied together by a shared city and similarly low wages, not a single employer. Both FFWC and WOCC are backed by unions and labor community groups, and so far aren’t recognized by any employers. And they’re making the same demands: allow a fair process for unionization and start paying $15 an hour. Organizers say that could be achieved through union contracts with individual companies, or through joint bargaining with several employers at once. Either way, it’s a heavy lift.
As workers try to change their industry, will fast food companies retaliate? Organizers say they already have.
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.”
Cerillo said many of his co-workers share his frustrations but are hesitant to get involved: Of around 40 other employees at his store, “about three” signed his petition. “They don’t want to lose their job,” said Cerillo. But he said he remains eager to keep up the fight: “I feel happy, and I want to fight more … I want to do something worthwhile.”
In recent decades, Warren said Tuesday, even the most effective U.S. unions have “had such a hard time organizing in their core industries,” where they already have members, “that fast food just got left out … no one was really willing to take the risk and invest in fast food organizing.” Warren said research suggests that the industry’s demographics – predominantly women and workers of color – could improve prospects for organizing.
On the other hand, Leidner noted that the extremely high turnover and the relatively small number of workers in each store would make organizing that much more difficult.
The structure of the industry will also play a role: most individual stores are franchisees, technically owned by an individual who holds a contract with the national company and pays them fees and a portion of revenue. Any individual franchisee that buckled to pressure to transform conditions or eschew union-busting could have that contract revoked (one exception: establishments in public buildings like convention centers, among the only places you can find a unionized Starbucks). At best, the franchisee relationship could provide organizers with an additional point of leverage, creating unrest in stores that could drive franchisees to press corporate for a resolution, and vice versa. But at worst, the franchisee structure could offer another lever for corporate to crack down on any uprisings while evading any responsibility.
The New York and Chicago campaigns evoke two strategies that have been long debated but infrequently attempted in U.S. labor. First, “minority unionism”: mobilizing workers to take dramatic actions and make demands on management prior to showing support from the majority of employees. Second, “geographic organizing”: collaboration between multiple unions to organize workers at several employers and win public support for raising a region’s standards through unionization. This campaign is also the latest example in which community-based organizing groups, which unions have long leaned on to drum up support for workers, are playing a major role in directly organizing workers to win union recognition.
NYCC’s Westin told Salon in a pre-strike interview that the goal of this work stoppage is to give expression to workers’ “energy and movement” and “anger around how they’ve been treated,” and “hopefully mobilizing the community, and mobilizing clergy, and mobilizing their fellow workers around them.”
Today’s strike also comes one week after non-union Wal-Mart workers escalated their unprecedented strike wave against the retail giant. Lopez said that, while he had already decided to strike, he drew additional inspiration from the Black Friday example. “I thought it was really ballsy for someone to do that,” said Lopez. “Which I admired.” Lopez said his decision to strike “got scary probably a couple days ago, when I realized the seriousness of this.” Despite that fear, he said, “I still believe in what I’m doing, so I’m going to go ahead and do it.”
“I don’t know what to expect” from the strike, said Lopez. “It’s such a unique thing. A lot of stuff could happen. It’s not going to be overnight.”

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