Most every day around noon, the McDonald’s on Jackson Street in downtown Oakland is filled with customers. Friday at noon, it was jam-packed as usual, but it wasn’t the usual crowd. Nearly 200 striking fast food workers and their supporters flooded into the restaurant with a simple demand:
Keep your burgers, keep your fries… we want our wages SUPERSIZED!
Fast-food is one of the most profitable industries in our country, and yet the vast majority of fast-food workers earn poverty wages, and more than half are forced to enroll their families in public assistance programs just to afford basics like food and housing. Fast-food corporations are some of the biggest contributors to our nation’s growing income inequality, which is why thousands of fast-food workers went on strike in more than 100 cities Friday.
In the East Bay, workers from a dozen different fast food restaurants joined the strike – including one brave worker at the Jackson Street McDonalds who was so motivated by the action at her workplace that she walked out of work and joined the strikers, who blocked the drive-thru lane to make sure McDonalds wouldn’t be doing its regular brisk business that day.
Shonda Roberts, a mother of three who works at Kentucky Fried Chicken, was one of the workers who helped organize the strike in the East Bay.
This is a beautiful event. We shut down this McDonalds, and the most beautiful thing about it was that we inspired others to walk off the job because they hear what we’re saying and they know it’s true. $15 an hour is what we need, and $15 an hour is what we’re gonna get!
Later in the day, the strikers and supporters (including clergy, students, union members, seniors and others) marched over to the busy Jack-in-the-Box in Oakland’s Fruitvale district, where they once again flooded the restaurant and shut down the drive-thru, transforming it into an impromptu dance hall. Check out news coverage here and here and here.
Oakland is one of more than a dozen California cities to participate in the nationwide fast food strike, which came on the heels of the Black Friday strikes that made history at 1,500 Walmart locations from coast to coast. More and more low-wage workers are standing together for decent wages and working conditions, and their collective voice is being heard by those who have the power to make a difference.
In fact, on the same day as the strike, President Obama called on Congress to increase the minimum wage, pointing out that the outrageous and growing income inequality problem in our country makes it harder for children to escape poverty.
That should offend all of us. We are a better country than this.
For more highlights from the strike, check out #fastfoodstrikes on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.