Foodservice Equipment Reports

Minimum Wage Strikes Continue

Scattered protests and employee walkouts hit quick-service chains in 60 cities last week in an effort to ramp up pressure for increased wages. While spokesmen for the protests’ organizers estimated that they involved 1,000 foodservice outlets and other retailers, at least two chains—McDonald’s and Wendy’s—said that the protests had minimal effects on their operations.

Marchers have called for the chains to increase wages to $15 an hour—wages now can be as low as the national minimum of $7.25 an hour—and to allow a “fair process” to join a union. Foodservice chains say they pay fair and competitive wages and that increases of that size would force them and their franchisees to cut staff.

Meanwhile, organizers are quietly working to create unions to represent restaurant workers. The Service Employees International Union has been helping establish new unions in at least six cities, including Chicago, New York and St. Louis.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez compared the strikes with the 1963 March on Washington. In an interview with The Associated Press, he declined to address workers' demands but asserted he is taking a lead role in the presidental administration’s push to boost the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.