It started in New York. It spread to St. Louis. Now it’s in Detroit, with no less a personage than Al Sharpton in its midst. American fast food workers are getting fed up with low wages, long and unpredictable hours, lousy working conditions, and employers who make a mint off of their labor but pay them only the state minimum and fire them if they try to do anything about it.
Have you ever worked in fast food? In the last 20 years? If you have, you know it SUCKS. My stepson works in a fast food place while also attending high school. He busts his butt, and gets minimum wage and “flexible hours” in return. They work him up to ten hours a day on weekends and up to 11 o’clock at night on school nights(he has to be at school at 7:20 am), and they don’t give a good goddamn. His mother has to drive him to his suburban fast food joint in an outer ring suburb of Cleveland, and that costs about $15 a week, which he pays. A bus pass would cost $85 a month, and he has no car, so what the hell else can he do?
Our family needs the money, as little as it is.
The bottom line is this: a fast food worker’s labor, and hard labor at that, on an eight hour shift probably brings in several thousand dollars for the corporate owners, and in return for all of that labor he or she gets paid a few dozen bucks. An insignificant fraction of the fruit of said labor. The worker is also frequently subjected to verbal abuse by both management and customers, and both can be real assholes, lording it over the lowly serf toiling over the grill or the cash register in order to make themselves feel better about their own pathetic lives.
I’ve seen it firsthand. You probably have, too. Sometimes I’ll speak up on behalf of such a worker–what is corporate gonna do, I’m a customer, after all–and be rewarded with a grateful smile or even a thank you from the truly oppressed worker. That warms the cockles of my old barbarian heart.
Now, it seems, more and more fast food workers in America have had enough of this maltreatment. If you live in a city where one of these fast food strikes is happening, please PLEASE show your support for these workers. Who knows? They might just be the trigger that can start turning this country around to a more just and fair society. After all, there are a LOT of them, since fast food jobs are often the only jobs working class people can get. If they really mobilize, they can make a big difference quickly.
Photo by Cathy Sherwin under Creative Commons license