More Fast Food Strikes Expected For Thursday

Getting a Big Mac, Whopper, Baconator, Double Down, or Chalupa might be a bit of an inconvenience on Thursday, as supporters of the movement for higher pay and union membership for fast food workers say employees will strike in 150 cities.

The full list of cities for Thursday’s protests is not yet known, but there are several that organizers have already announced — New York City, Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago, Raleigh, Little Rock, Minneapolis, Memphis, and Nashville.

Given the recent unrest in Missouri, the organizers say they have asked that employees in the St. Louis area not protest there, but have encouraged those workers to join protests in other cities.

What remains to be seen is whether Thursday’s actions will be actual strikes, where employees walk off the job temporarily to protest what they believe are unfair working conditions, or if the demonstrations will be manned mostly by union organizers and fast food employees who are not scheduled to work during those hours.

Some have criticized the movement for higher wages as an attempt by labor unions to increase their numbers and take in more dues. They claim that most of the people demonstrating outside of the stores are not actual employees.

The unions counter that the only way fast food employees will be able to increase the general level of compensation is by negotiating en masse as part of a union, and that being a part of a union is no different than a fast food franchisee being part of a larger industry group that works to protect franchisees’ business interests. Additionally, some supporters have said that employees are still too afraid to strike or openly protest their employer for fear of retaliation, in spite of laws prohibiting employers from punishing these workers.

Seattle’s city council recently voted to gradually increase minimum wage in the city to $15/hour over the next few years. But franchisees in the city say they are being unfairly targeted — the law puts franchisees on the same fast-track scheduled as significantly larger companies, regardless of how many employees a particular franchisee might have — and are looking to the courts for resolution.

Meanwhile, earlier this summer the National Labor Relations Board Office of the General Counsel ruled that McDonald’s and its franchisees could be treated as “joint employers” in labor disputes, meaning McDonald’s corporate office can no longer distance itself from any bad behavior by a rogue franchisee. McDonald’s says it will fight that decision.