Calling for $15 and the right to form a union without retaliation, fast-food workers in Phoenix walked off their jobs Thursday as part of a wave of strikes in more than 150 cities across the US and protests in 33 additional countries on six continents. In all, strikes and protests reached more than 230 cities worldwide.
“No question, I’m here for my families, for my coworkers and my community,” said fast food worker Rochelle Jordan, head of household mother who makes $8.25 an hour. “I struggle to buy formula for my baby and pay rent; meanwhile, Burger King is making a huge profit. I’m a working mom, not a teenager working a summer job. This is my livelihood.”
Workers from Burger King, Taco Bell and other fast food chains went on strike and protested at one of Phoenix’s most visited fast food restaurants, Burger King. Workers and community advocates walked inside the store and called for higher pay and right to unionize.
“Arizona certainly isn’t the friendliest state for workers, which is why today’s fast food workers on strike was not only bold, but history in the making,” stated Maria Jose Lopez of Arizona’s Workers’ Rights Center. “This is only the beginning for workers who are determined to make $15 an hour a reality for their families and our community.”
Across the nation, members Congress joined strike lines around the country and released a video declaring their support for the workers.
“Where Congress is failing to take action to address inequality, these workers are leading the way,” said Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-MN). “Their fight for $15 and a union is a shining light that will ultimately benefit all workers in the country and help lift up our economy. It’s clear this movement isn’t going to stop until fast-food companies listen to the voices of these workers, who are struggling to support families on as little as $7.25 an hour.”
In the US, fast-food workers went on strike in more than 150 cities from Los Angeles to Boston. Around the world, workers protested in 80 cities spanning nearly three-dozen countries, including Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, India, Japan, Malawi, Morocco, New Zealand, Panama, and the United Kingdom.
In Dorchester, Mass. managers closed down a Burger King where a half-dozen workers were striking. In St. Louis, a corporate McDonald’s closed its doors at 3 am because managers knew the entire morning shift was going to walk out, and reopened three hours later with managers at the helm. Nearly 20 workers from that store are on strike. There was no breakfast at a Chicago Burger King when striking workers forced the kitchen to close. Strikes forced a Wendy’s in Pittsburgh to close, as well as McDonald’s restaurants in Oakland and Sacramento. All non-managerial workers walked off their jobs at a First Hill McDonald’s in Seattle, forcing managers to keep the store running.
San Diego fast-food workers led hundreds of religious and community supporters through a Burger King drive-thru Thursday morning, chanting, praying and holding signs that read, “Strike for Better Pay” and “Poverty Jobs Hurt San Diego.” State legislators joined striking workers outside a Charleston, SC Burger King and a McDonald’s in New York City. And in Los Angeles, the Rev. Al Sharpton was expected to brave 100-degree temperatures to join protesters on a strike line Thursday afternoon.
On Twitter, the #fastfoodglobal hashtag trended in nearly 20 US cities from New York to Phoenix, and around the world it trended in 50 cities from London to Lagos. Overseas, workers protested in 80 cities from Paris to Sao Paolo. Banner-waving protesters in New Zealand kicked off the international protests with a demonstration at a McDonald’s adjacent to corporate headquarters in Auckland, reading out the names of the 150-plus US cities on strike and calling for higher pay and better rights for McDonald’s workers in New Zealand. The police in India tried to shut down protests, but workers were not dissuaded and held a demonstration in front of a McDonald’s in Mumbai. On Friday, fast-food workers across Italy will walk off their jobs in a strike that is expected to bring the industry there to a standstill.
In the Philippines, workers held a flash mob inside a Manila McDonald’s during the breakfast rush. They sang and danced to “Let it Go,” from the movie Frozen, calling on McDonald’s to let go of low pay and let workers organize. In Japan, where protests were held in nearly every prefecture, workers protested at a McDonald’s in downtown Tokyo, adopting the US workers’ fight for 15 by calling for the company to pay Japanese workers 1,500 Yen. Bystanders stopped and applauded protesters in Sapporo, a rare occurrence in Japan. Protesters shut down a McDonald’s in Brussels during the lunchtime rush.
Fast-food workers went on strike in the following U.S. cities:
Alameda, CA; Arvada, CO; Atlanta, GA; Auburn Hills, MI; Aurora, CO; Austin, TX; Ballwin, MO; Belleville, IL; Bellevue, PA; Berkeley, CA; Bloomfield, CT; Bloomington, IN; Boston, MA; Cahoka, IL; Cary, NC; Central Falls, RI; Charleston, SC; Charlotte, NC; Chesterfield, MO; Chicago, IL; Commerce City, CO; Concord, NC; Creve Coeur, MO; Dearborn, MI; Decatur, GA; Denver, CO; Dublin, CA; Durham, NC; East St. Louis, IL; Eastpointe, MI; El Cerrito, CA; Fairfield, CA; Farmington Hills, MI; Ferguson, MO; Ferndale, MI; Flint, MI; Flint Township, MI; Florissant, MO; Forsynth, MO; Fremont, CA; Glendale, CA; Glendale, WI; Greendale, WI; Greenfield, WI; Goldsboro, NC; Greensboro, NC; Greenville, NC; Grandview, MO; Gretna, LA; Haines City, FL; Hamden, CT; Hamtramck, MI; Hartford, CT; Harvey, LA; Hayward, CA; Henderson, NV; Henrico, VA; Highland Park, MI; Houston, TX; Huntington Park, CA; Indianapolis, IN; Inglewood, CA; Independence, MO; James Island, SC; Jennings, MO; Kannapolis, NC; Kansas City, KS; Kansas City, MO; Knightdale, NC; Lakewood, CO; Lansing, MI; Las Vegas, NV; Lenaxa, KS; Lincoln Park, MI; Livonia, MI; Los Angeles, CA; Madison, WI; Milwaukee, WI; Melvindale, MI; Memphis, TN; Metarie, LA; Miami, FL; Miami Beach, FL; Miami Gardens, FL; Morrisville, NC; Mt. Olive, NC; Nanuet, NY; Nashville, TN; New Haven, CT; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; North Charleston, SC; North Las Vegas, NV; Oak Park, MI; Oakland, CA; Opelika, AL; Orlando, FL; Overland Park, KS; Pawtucket, RI; Peoria, IL; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Pleasant Hills, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Pleasanton, CA; Plymouth, NC; Pontiac, MI; Providence, RI; Pueblo, CO; Raleigh, NC; Raytown, MO; Redford, MI; Redford Township, MI; Richmond, CA; Richmond, VA; River Rouge, MI; Rockford, IL; Roeland Park, KS; Sacramento, CA; San Antonio, TX; San Diego, CA; San Leandro, CA; San Lorenzo, CA; Seattle, WA; Seekonk, MA; Slidel, LA; Southfield, MI; Southhaven, MS; Spencer, NC; Springfield, MO; St. Louis, MO; St. Petersburg, FL; Tampa, FL; Taylor, CA; Taylor, MI; Temple Terrace, FL; Union City, CA; University City, MO; Warren, MI; Warwick, RI; Waterford, MI; Wayne, MI; Wausau, WI; Wauwatosa, WI; West Allis, WI; West Milwaukee, WI; Westin, WI; West Memphis, AR; Westview, PA; Wilkinsburg, PA; Wheat Ridge, CO; West Haven, CT; Wethersfield, CT; Wilmington, DE; Windsor Locks, CT; Wentzville, MO; Wiliamston, NC; Winston-Salem, NC.