Restaurant worker wage strikes spread beyond the US

May 7, 2014

Quick-service employees and supporting organizations in New York City announced today that more strikes are expected next week in as many as 150 cities.

In a press conference, they also announced the strikes — which have been held in various cities throughout the past year-plus in protest for higher wages — will spread beyond the U.S. for the first time. The "May 15 for $15" strike will include employees walking off their jobs at chains such as McDonald's, KFC, Burger King and more.

"We've gone global," Ashley Cathey, a McDonald's worker from Memphis, Tenn., said in a news release. "It's amazing that our fight for $15 and a union has inspired workers around the world to come together. Our campaign is growing and gaining momentum, and the highly-profitable fast-food industry needs to know we won't stop fighting until our voices are heard."

In addition to announcing the May 15 event today, the workers also delivered a letter to McDonald's that called on the company to raise wages.

"On May 15, we will be taking action together around the world to demand that McDonald's — the second-largest private sector employer in the world — respect its employees' work," the letter read.

Earlier this week, workers and union leaders from dozens of countries met in New York City for the first global meeting of restaurant workers. The event was organized by the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations, a federation composed of 396 trade unions in 126 countries representing a combined 12 million workers, the release said.

In the U.S., strikes are expected in cities from Oakland, Calif., to Raleigh, N.C., including the first-ever walkouts in Philadelphia, Sacramento, Miami and Orlando. Around the world, workers are planning major protests in at least 33 cities, spanning six continents, including:

Africa (Morocco and Malawi); Asia (Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, India, the Philippines, Thailand); Australia and Oceania; Europe (Belgium, U.K., Germany, Ireland, Italy), South America and more.

The strikes in protest for higher wages began in November 2012 in New York City and have since spread to other cities throughout the U.S.

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