Fifteen and life: Fast-food strikers and protesters gather on I-Drive to demand a living wage (video)

As you might be able to tell from the image above, our bleary eyes begat blurry images as we rushed to catch the crack-of-dawn (before, really) gathering of what ended up being nearly 100 protesters – a number of whom were actually striking at least one of their several fast-food jobs – outside of a Burger King on I-Drive (NOT IN CANADA!). Typically when we've attended these affairs, they've been a little low-blown under the high sun of lunchtime, meaning we've complained in a very bourgeois manner about the heat. This, time, it was, well, griping about the time. BUT ENOUGH ABOUT US. Initially, there were just seven or so gathered out on the sidewalk, but then, like some kind of Croissan'wich parade, the drums and the chants started coming from around the corner at around 6 a.m. From there, it was all bright television-media lamps-and-ladies set up across the street capturing a series of clever chants like "Hold the burgers, hold the fries, make our wages supersized!" The whole event was part of a national day of action that stems from a growing, growling movement of fed-up (and feeding down) laborers who feel shafted. Below is the explanation from the organizers staging the protests. After that, some videos courtesy of Organize Now director Stephanie Porta. We'll have more on this in next week's Happytown column.
“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. Give America a raise. You know what, if I were looking for a job that lets me build some security for my family, I’d join a union. If I were busting my butt in the service industry and wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, I’d join a union I’d want a union looking out for me.” -- President Obama, Sept 1, 2014, Milwaukee, WI



 Local McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s Workers Among Those in 150+ Cities Expected To Walk Off Their Jobs

ORLANDO– Coming off a convention at which they vowed to do “whatever it takes” to win $15 and the right to form a union, ORLANDO fast-food workers will walk off their jobs as their movement intensifies and continues to spread. A day after President Obama highlighted their campaign in a Labor Day speech, workers said they will strike at Orlando major fast-food restaurants, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Popeye’s and Taco Bell. Clergy, elected officials, and community supporters will join fast-food workers on the strike lines. WHO: Workers at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Popeye’s, Taco Bell; Community Supporters, Clergy, Elected officials WHAT: Fast-Food Worker Strike WHERE: Burger King 7667 International Drive, Orlando 32819 WHEN: Thursday, September 4 at 6: 00AM Thursday’s strike comes a little more than a month after the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel determined that, despite McDonald’s repeated claims, the company is a joint employer that exerts substantial power over its employees’ working conditions. For nearly two years, McDonald’s and other fast-food workers have been joining together and going on strike, calling for $15 and the right to form a union without retaliation. But time and time again, the company and other industry players have tried to sidestep workers’ calls, inventing a make-believe world in which responsibility for wages and working conditions falls squarely only on the shoulders of franchisees, not the corporations that control how food is served and priced. As corporations push down real wages for average American workers, a growing number of economists warn that low wages are a barrier to growth that are harming the overall U.S. economy. A campaign that started in New York City in November 2012, with 200 fast-food workers walking off their jobs demanding $15 and the right to form a union without retaliation, has since spread to more than 150 cities in every region of the country, including the South. The growing fight for $15 has been credited with elevating the debate around inequality in the U.S. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said that it has “entirely changed the politics of the country.” Since the campaign launched, nearly 7 million low-wage workers have seen their wages rise. What seemed like a far-fetched goal--$15 an hour—is now a reality in Seattle, where Bloomberg News said the city adopted “the rallying cry of fast-food workers.” As it spreads, the movement is challenging fast-food companies’ outdated notion that their workers are teenagers looking for pocket change. Today’s workers are mothers and fathers struggling to raise children on wages that are too low. And they’re showing the industry that if it doesn’t raise pay, it will continue to be at the center of the national debate on what’s wrong with our economy. Follow all of the nationwide action on strike day at and #StrikeFastFood.

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