New York fast-food workers strike for higher pay



NEW YORK — Workers at McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s restaurants across New York walked out Monday in a one-day strike to demand better pay and the right to unionize, calling for minimum wage to rise from $7.25 to $15 an hour and the end to what activists called “abusive labor practices.”

“It’s noisy, it’s really hot, fast, they rush you. Some­times you don’t even get breaks. All for $7.25?” said Na­thalia Sepulveda, who works at a McDonald’s near Yank­ee Stadium in the Bronx,
where a protest took place.

Outside a McDonald’s and a Wendy’s in lower Man­hattan, workers chanted “we can’t survive on $7.25” and “supersize our wages.” At the Wen­dy’s, the crowd shouted at customers not to go in.

Hundreds protested across New York, activists said. Similar strikes are planned across the country this week, organized by Fast Food Forward, a campaign launched last year to tackle stagnating wages and the proliferation of low-wage jobs as the nation recovers from recession, said campaign director Jonathan Westin.

“The workers’ actions will lift up all of New York City,” he said. “If they have more money in their pockets, they’ll spend it right here, helping to
boost the entire economy.”

Doubling the minimum wage would have a “significant effect on the private sector’s ability to create jobs, especially those typically filled by first-time workers and teens,” said Scott DeFife of the National Restaurant Association. McDonald’s had directed requests for comment to the trade group.

Spokesmen for Burger King and Wendy’s both said they respect the rights of their workers.

Striking workers were joined by politicians, including U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat who represents the district. He said the fact that the fast food industry is worth $200 billion a year and yet many employees still rely on food stamps and Medicaid is “disgusting.”

Ashley Pinkney, who works at McDonald’s in Times Square, arrived at the downtown rally still in her uniform.

“I can’t even order something off the menu with what I earn,” she said. “It makes me wonder what I’m even doing there.”