Several weeks ago, fast-food workers captured the city’s attention by going on strike to demand fair wages, a contract and an end to retaliation, while thousands of miles away, workers at the Los Angeles Port went on strike to keep their jobs from being shipped overseas. A week earlier, WalMart workers across the country had demonstrated at thousands of stores — also calling for respect on the job and fair wages.
While these high-profile fights have made headlines, workers at car washes, supermarkets and our airports have also been standing up for their rights in dozens of lower-profile organizing drives within our own city. Just last week, workers at JFK Airport authorized a strike in response to being silenced after voicing their concerns about airport security standards. The security officers know that low pay and lack of benefits undermine passenger safety.
These men and women are bravely speaking out because they know the economy isn’t working for working people, and they are organizing to make change. Low-wage workers in New York united at a Dec. 6 rally in Times Square organized by United NY to amplify their voices. They were uplifted from the solidarity shown by their brothers and sisters in construction, education and other sectors, together with steadfast support from community organizations such as New York Communities for Change and Make the Road NY, faith leaders, and labor organizations like 32BJ and RWDSU.
Our communities face stubbornly high unemployment, low wages and crushing poverty. Many jobs pay wages so low that employees get food stamps and public health care, while profitable corporations game the system so they pay no taxes.