Fast-food workers at several restaurants in New York walked off the job on Thursday, firing the first salvo in what workplace experts say is the biggest effort to unionize fast-food workers ever undertaken in the United States. The effort — backed by community and civil rights groups, religious leaders and a labor union — has engaged 40 full-time organizers in recent months to enlist workers at McDonald’s,Wendy’s, Domino’s, Taco Bell and other fast-food restaurants across the city.
The first walkout took place at 6:30 a.m. at a McDonald’s at Madison Avenue and 40th Street, where several dozen striking workers and supporters chanted: “Hey, hey, what do you say? We demand fair pay.” An organizer of the unionizing campaign said that 14 of the 17 employees scheduled to work the morning shift had gone on strike.
Raymond Lopez, 21, an aspiring actor who has worked at the McDonald’s for more than two years, showed up on his day off to protest. “In this job having a union would really be a dream come true,” said Mr. Lopez, who added that he makes $8.75 an hour. He said that he, and fellow fast-food workers, were under-compensated. “We don’t get paid for what we do,” he said. “It really is living in poverty.”