Fast-Food Workers Protest in 50 Cities for $15 Minimum Wage

Thousands of fast-food workers gathered in protest in almost 50 cities yesterday in support of a $15 minimum wage. 

On the 50th anniversary of the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike, workers hit the streets around lunch time in Detroit, Boston, Chicago, Oakland, and other cities across the U.S.

California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland and New York City are all expected to see a spike in minimum wage this year. NYC’s wage is going to reach $15 an hour by 2019. Maine and Colorado have a goal to implement $12 an hour by 2020.  

The Fight for $15 worker movement, that started in 2012 , has led to 20 cities initiating minimum wage increases in 2018. 

On the national level, workers and unions are also fighting for the $15 an hour minimum wage to be implemented as a federal law.

“We're going to send a message to corporations and politicians that their time of rigging the economy against workers is over," the Rev. W.J. Rideout, a Detroit protest organizer, to the “Free Press.” "We have to stand up and fight back.”   

Operators, on the other hand, are not in support of the minimum wage spikes and for good reason. 

The average 5-6 % profit margin is tough enough for restaurant owners. With the minimum wage increase to $15, this means restaurants will be even less profitable. 

Many operators have argued that an increase like this would not only be detrimental to their business, but the employees would ultimately suffer with weekly hour cuts and even may lose their jobs entirely. 

“We are proud of the fact that one in three Americans have the restaurant industry to thank for their first job and that half of all adults have worked in the industry at some point in their lives," said Justin Winslow, Michigan Restaurant Association CEO in a statement. "These protests, well-intentioned as they may be, only serve to limit these opportunities for the very people they are claiming to help.”

Not to mention, it encourages operators to invest in technology like self-ordering kiosks to cut labor costs. 

Nonetheless, the minimum wage movement has morphed into a force to be reckoned with, especially with that union funding backing it up.

Read more about the fight for the $15 minimum wage from “The Hill” and “USA Today.”