The Edmond Sun

Business

August 21, 2013

Low-wage workers set nationwide walkout for Aug. 29

Emboldened by an outpouring of support on social media, low-wage fast-food and retail workers from eight cities who have staged walkouts this year are calling for a national day of strikes Aug. 29.

The workers - who are backed by local community groups and national unions and have held one-day walkouts in cities such as New York, St. Louis and Detroit - say they have received pledges of support from workers in dozens of cities across the country.

The workers are calling for a wage of $15 an hour and the right to form a union. Organizers of the walkout say cashiers, cooks and crew members at fast-food restaurants are paid a median wage of $8.94 an hour.

Since some 200 workers walked off their jobs at fast-food restaurants in New York City this past November, the strikes have moved across the country, drawing attention to a fast-growing segment of the workforce that until recently had shown no inclination to organize for purposes of collective bargaining.

The planned August walkout - timed for the immediate aftermath of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the lead-up to Labor Day - is expected to touch 35 or more cities and involve thousands of workers, organizers said. The walkouts have not led to widespread changes, though some workers say they have gotten small pay increases and better hours in the wake of previous strikes.

"The top executives in these companies make huge salaries and the corporations make record profits every year," said Terrance Wise, 34, a father of three who earns $9.30 an hour at Burger King in Kansas City, where he has worked for eight years. He has a second job at Pizza Hut that pays him $7.47 an hour. "How about them cutting a little off the top? CEOs are taking home millions and many workers are struggling."

Wise said that he has looked for better-paying work but has had no luck. "All kinds of industries are cutting back workers," he said. "Most people are forced into these low-wage jobs. The options aren't as plentiful as people think."

Wise, who has been working with Kansas City organizers since January and has participated in one walkout, says he has helped sign up scores of workers who plan to join the nationwide job action.

Willietta Dukes, 39, a mother of two living in Durham, N.C., said she plans to walk off her job at Burger King that day. She said she has little choice. After 15 years of working behind the counters, griddles and deep fryers of fast-food restaurants, she still earns a poverty-level wage. She said her highest salary has been $8.65 an hour, and she rarely is scheduled for a 40-hour week.

 "I have been watching on TV and I have seen a lot of people forming around the country, striking for better wages and to have their voices heard. I think it is high time that I did something," Dukes said. "I work hard. I don't sit around. I am good at what I do. Yet after working all day, I do not earn enough to even pay for the basics. I don't want to be in poverty forever."

The fast-food workers are expected to be joined by retail workers from stores such as Macy's, Dollar Tree and Sears. Many of them said they have received pledges of support on Facebook and through the websites of local organizing groups.

Although he has not commented on the fast-food walkouts, President Barack Obama has called on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 a hour. The idea has broad support from voters, but opponents say it would further hurt job creation. A recent Public Religion Research Institute survey found that nearly three of four Americans favored raising the minimum wage to $10.

The fledgling movement, which has been aided by the Service Employees International Union and other labor groups, as well as local religious groups, argues that many fast-food and low-paid retail workers are forced to rely on government aid programs to provide for their families, even as fast-food corporations rake in $200 billion a year in revenues.

Moreover, organizers say, most fast-food workers are adults relying on the jobs to support themselves and their families, not teenagers looking to earn pocket money. The Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research group, says that roughly eight out of 10 workers in the country earning minimum wage are age 20 or older, and half of them work 40 hours a week.

"It is clear that the bulk of minimum-wage workers are mid- or full-time adult employees, not teenagers or part-timers," the EPI researchers said.

Fast-food industry representatives have said that jobs in their restaurants offer a valuable gateway into the workforce for millions of workers, most of whom move on to other, better-paying jobs. In addition, they say that fast-food franchises, as well as retailers, often operate on wafer-thin profit margins and that paying workers as much as $15 an hour would drive them out of business.

But workers say something is going to have to give. "I personally think a $15-an-hour wage is very obtainable," said Shonda Roberts, 38, a mother of three who works at KFC in Oakland, Calif. She says she plans to walk off the job with other workers.

"As hard as we work, are we not worth $15 an hour? I certainly believe I am."

      

       

1
Text Only
Business
  • Kaiser joins Thunder ownership group

    Tulsa businessman George B. Kaiser has been approved by the NBA Board of Governors as a new partner in The Professional Basketball Club LLC, which owns the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thunder Chairman and CEO Clayton I. Bennett made the announcement Friday. Kaiser is purchasing the ownership interest of Tom L. Ward.
    “We are honored to welcome George Kaiser as a member of the ownership group of the Oklahoma City Thunder,” Bennett said. “George is a well-respected and important Oklahoma business leader, as well as one of the state and nation’s top philanthropists. His commitment to successful business and community leadership is in true alignment with that of the Thunder.
    “I also appreciate the commitment and leadership provided by Tom Ward as a member of our ownership group from the beginning,” Bennett added.

    April 18, 2014

  • Food Bank’s Leadership Council applications now available

    The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma invites young professionals to submit applications for the nonprofit’s first-ever Leadership Council. The Leadership Council connects young professionals interested in getting involved in their community and state through engagement with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. These dedicated individuals, aged 24 to 35, will volunteer their time and creativity to raise awareness about the issue of hunger and increase the visibility of the Regional Food Bank and its mission of “Fighting Hunger … Feeding Hope” in Oklahoma.

    April 18, 2014

  • Logan County Health Department observes Administrative Professionals Week

    The Logan County Health Department is recognizing the work of its seven administrative professionals during Administrative Professionals Week, April 20-26.

    April 18, 2014

  • Tractor Supply Company launches spring 2014 Paper Clover campaign

    Tractor Supply Company, in partnership with National 4-H Council, recently announced the launch of its spring 2014 Paper Clover Campaign.
    Tractor Supply Company, the largest retail farm and ranch supply store chain in the United States, raised more than $3.2 million for 4-H programs across the country through the Paper Clover Campaigns during the past four years.

    April 18, 2014

  • U.S Cellular offers device trade-in program, app recommendations

    In honor of Earth Day (April 22), U.S. Cellular encourages people to recycle their old electronic devices and is providing incentives to do so. Customers can get up to $250 when they trade in qualified smartphones — including Apple® iPhones — at U.S. Cellular retail locations through the company’s Trade-in Program.

    April 18, 2014

  • Sun Life Financial accepting grant applications

    The U.S. Business Group of Sun Life Financial Inc. recently announced its Request For Applications for Sun Life Rising Star Awards grants from Tulsa/Oklahoma City Area nonprofit organizations that promote the academic achievement of under-served youth. Applications are available now at sunliferisingstar.com. The deadline for submissions is June 9.

    April 18, 2014

  • Ribbon Cutting - Qdoba (3-26-14).jpg Qdoba Mexican Grill celebrates grand opening on Covell

    Qdoba Mexican Grill recently had a ribbon cutting to celebrate the grand opening of its newest location at 1300 W. Covell Road. The franchise joins nine others in the Oklahoma City and Lawton areas and boasts a wide variety of menu items including gumbos, burritos, tacos, quesadillas and five types of salsa as well as options for children. Each restaurant prepares ingredients fresh daily and is available to cater small or large parties with three types of hot bars: Naked Burrito, Taco and Nacho. “We also offer rewards cards, easy to register from a smart phone or computer,” reports owner/operator David Smith. For more information, call 405-285-0355 or visit www.qdoba.com.Caption header 24 Frtgr Bold Cd

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Family, friends remember beloved ‘T-shirt man’

    If you have lived in the Oklahoma City metro area during the past 40 years, chances are you’ve worn one of Tony Newcomb’s T-shirts.
    This week, family members and friends have been remembering the “T-shirt man” who died April 15 after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 72.

    April 18, 2014

  • U.S. Cellular announces Edmond to receive 4G LTE service

    U.S. Cellular (NYSE: USM), in conjunction with its partner, King Street Wireless, announced that Edmond residents will have 4G LTE services by the end of 2014. The company is adding more than 1,200 4G LTE cell sites across the country, and by the end of the year more than 93 percent of U.S. Cellular customers will have access to 4G LTE speeds that are up to 10 times faster than 3G.

    April 18, 2014

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 16, 2014

Stocks