People who work in the fast food industry along with others who work in jobs where they earn the federal minimum wage are planning a rally this week. Organizers said that picketers will be outside many popular fast food chains during the lunch hour to speak out about low wages and retaliation by their employers.
A majority of people who have jobs in the fast food industry earn the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Workers say that this is not enough and that in addition to an increase to $15 per hour, they want the right to organize without fear of retaliation.
Under federal labor laws, it is illegal for an employer to prevent their employees from organizing or forming unions in order to engage in collective bargaining. Nonetheless workers report that they are unable to negotiate for higher wages because they are intimidated and fear losing their jobs if they organize.
The fast food industry counters that about half of the people earning minimum wage are teenagers who do not need the money to support their families.
Activists say that since the recession took hold, many adults who do need to support themselves and their families have been forced to accept minimum wage jobs and that the pay is not enough to survive.
Workers who are in a position where they feel they are not being paid fairly should know that they have rights under the law and that employers cannot fire or otherwise penalize them for seeking to enforce those rights.
Source: Reuters, “Fast-food workers plan nationwide strikes over wages,” Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, Aug. 29, 2013.