An estimated 400 quick-service employees walked off their jobs today at more than 60 New York City restaurants. The Fast Food Forward organization, which helped facilitate today's event, claims it is the largest fast food strike in U.S. history.
A similar protest was held in November. Employees are demanding higher wages and the right to form a union without interference.
In March, faith leaders launched a similar campaign to support the city's low-wage restaurant workers. Many were on today's strike lines as well
According to an earlier press release, the goal of Fast Food Forward is to "put money back in the pockets of the 50,000 men and women who work hard in the city's fast food industry — but still can't afford basic necessities like food, clothing and rent — to help get New York's economy moving again."
Ruth Milkman, a sociology professor at the City University of New York, told the New York Times in November that there has been little effort to unionize QSR workers in the past because of the daunting challenge it presents. With a high turnover rate in the industry, organization is also challenging.
According to the State Labor Department, median pay for QSR workers in NYC is around $9 an hour — or about $18,500 a year for a full-time worker.
"We deserve better," said Glenda Soto, a NYC McDonald's worker. "I work very hard. I'm a single mom, I have 3 kids, and on $7.25 an hour I can't support them, and I can't give them the education I want them to have. That hurts all of us."
"We're not looking for a handout, we're saying we deserve ... to be treated with respect and to earn enough to afford food, rent and clothing," said Chad Tall, a Taco Bell employee.
Rick Maynard, KFC spokesman, told CNN that the company's restaurants in the NYC market are franchise-owned. "We are proud that the franchise system of KFC restaurants provides employment and opportunities for career advancement to thousands of workers in the New York City area," he added.
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