LOS ANGELES, September 5, 2014 — National headlines and photos are documenting the Thursday protests of fast-food workers across the country. They are demanding a $15-an-hour minimum wage.
The protests are reportedly taking place in more than 150 cities, and civil protests, such as sit-ins, are planned in additional cities.
Many of the protesters have been shipped in by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is funding this campaign. Many of the protesters had printed T-shirts and signs, and were organized in front of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Subway, and — Whole Foods. While Whole Foods pays their workers quite well (far above the minimum wage), it is a non-union business, and therefore a suitable target.
Los Angeles Times writer Shan Li interviewed Fanny Velazquez, a 36-year-old McDonald’s worker on the picket line:
[Fanny] said she was participating in the rally to fight for better wages to support her family. A single mother with three children, ages 11, 14 and 16, she said she struggles to make her $9.34-an-hour pay cover all the bills.
The South Los Angeles resident has been working at McDonald’s for eight years doing a variety of jobs, usually working 20 hours a week. But lately, Velazquez said, the company has often cut her hours to 15 a week. She also qualifies for welfare and food assistance.
‘It’s difficult, it’s not enough to pay my bills,’ she said.
While I feel for anyone who has to raise three children in Los Angeles on a paltry salary, I have questions for Ms. Velazquez.
First, why would you stay at a company that, after eight years, only pays you $9.34 an hour? With that much on-the-job experience, could you not apply to, say In-N-Out Burger — ubiquitous all over Southern California — which starts their new associates at $11.00 an hour?
Second, has Ms. Velazquez looked into the paid internships and internal training for which McDonald’s is well known? These would allow her to advance in position, skill, and salary. More than a few people have moved up the ranks at McDonald’s from fry cook at a franchise to a corporate position in Chicago.
Third, there are satellite firms and community organizations that are run and owned by McDonald’s corporation in Southern California. So what stops Ms. Velazquez from taking advantage of these opportunities to advance?
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