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Religious Leaders to Launch Campaign in Support of Fast Food Workers


Fast Food Forward seeks to increase wages for New York City workers and allow them to unionize.

On November 29, 2012, the movement Fast Food Forward, the largest attempt ever made to unionize fast food workers in the United States, was officially announced. Protests sprang up across New York City at Burger King (NYSE:BKW), McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), Wendy's (NASDAQ:WEN), Domino's (NYSE:DPZ), and Taco Bell (NYSE:YUM) franchises. Workers demanded two things: the ability to form unions and a wage increase to a minimum of $15 per hour. The walkouts turned into the largest US fast food strike ever. (See photo from one event, below.)

Currently, the median wage for a food service worker in NYC is $8.90 per hour. According to Fast Food Forward's website, the average annual salary of a fast food worker in NYC is $11,000. The NYC poverty line for a single person is set at $11,500.

Tomorrow, religious leaders from across the five boroughs will meet in the heart of Brooklyn to initiate a campaign to support the city's 50,000 fast food workers and to further the Fast Food Forward movement. Hundreds of clergy, their congregations, and law-wage workers (not only fast food workers) will join the protest. The clergy coalition leading the event will announce its first major steps toward organizing support for Fast Food Forward, taking the issue of low-wage work directly to their congregations. The leadership hopes to motivate their congregates to adopt fast food restaurants as parts of their communities, and to support workers in their push for higher wages.

The event also serves to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., who was in Memphis, Tennessee, supporting striking sanitation workers when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968. As he said on that trip, "It is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages."

With the upcoming 45th anniversary of King's assassination in mind, the event will be held at Flatbush Reform Church at 6 p.m. EDT, and I will be attending to get a sense for the momentum behind this new campaign and how it might add to the conversation about increasing wages for fast food workers and other minimum wage employees.

To read more on the movement for higher fast food wages, read Minyanville's coverage from December, here. Stay tuned for an update about the latest strike actions.

Follow me on Twitter: @JoshWolonick and @Minyanville
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