Fri, Aug 30, 2013 - Page 15 News List

US fast-food workers plan nationwide strikes over minimum wages, unions

FRUSTRATION:Protesters were inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement’s discussions about inequality, but are mainly frustrated about low pay, an organizer said

Reuters, NEW YORK

“The workers are responding to total failure on behalf of the federal government to raise the minimum wage to keep up with inflation and the cost of living,” Gebreselassie said.

The US$200 billion US fast-food sector has come under the spotlight because lower-paying and part-time service work, including retail sales and food preparation, has made up most of the jobs added since the recession.

The pre-Labor Day strikes will include movements in several Southern states, a region that has historically been challenging for organized labor.

Dorian Warren, an assistant professor of political science at Columbia University who has published work on labor organizing and inequality, said that, while the movement is still in its early stages, the significance of protests in states such as Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama is “a huge, huge deal.”

“The South has always been the model for low wage employment, from slavery to the Jim Crow laws, to the present. It’s also the most anti-union part of the country, so the fact that workers feel empowered enough to take collective action is enormous,” Warren added.

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