Food News

Miami Fast-Food Workers to Join 150-City Protest Tomorrow

The nationwide fight for fast-food workers to raise their standard of living is getting louder and more organized.

On Thursday, September 4, employees of major companies like McDonald's and Burger King will protest in 150 major cities, including Miami.

The Miami events, organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which actually focuses not on the restaurant industry but on healthcare workers, public service workers, and people employed in property services (building cleaning and security), will be held at two different times and locations.

The first walk-out is scheduled for 5:30 a.m. at 18200 NW 27th Ave. in Miami Gardens. Another protest will be held at 11:30 a.m. at 144 NE 168th St. in North Miami Beach. Both locations are lots close to several fast food restaurants, allowing workers easy access to the sites without targeting a specific chain for protest. According to the organizers, who choose to remain secretive, restaurant management might retaliate against workers if they knew the exact locations of the walk-out activities in advance.

Florida Senator Dwight Bullard and other elected officials are expected to join employees who are seeking a minimum hourly pay rate of $15 and the right to form a union without retaliation. In addition, national organizers Low Pay Is Not OK are circulating an online petition for workers to sign.

These protests were organized after President Barack Obama recognized the movement in a Labor Day speech, saying "All across the country right now there's a national movement going on made up of fast-food workers organizing to lift wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity. There is no denying a simple truth. America deserves a raise."

According to a statement issued by the SEIU, "It's just wrong that so many fast food workers aren't paid enough to afford our basic needs, like food, transportation, and housing. We're united for a $15/hour wage floor and the right to form a union without retaliation. Raising pay will lift up our families and our communities."

The campaign for $15 an hour started in November 2012, when 200 fast food workers walked off their jobs in New York City, stating that companies like McDonald's and Wendy's no longer employ teenagers. Instead these jobs are held by adults with families.

The fight seems to be working. California recently passed a bill to raise its minimum wage to $13 by 2017 and Seattle's city council is working on approving a minimum wage rate hike to $15 an hour.

Currently, Florida minimum wage is $7.93 per hour, with a minimum wage of at least $4.91 per hour for tipped employees. Assuming an employee works a full 40-hour shift for 52 consecutive weeks, that equates to about $16,500 per year. That's just above the poverty guidelines for a family of two ($15,730), according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss