For the past two years fast-food workers around the world have been asking for two things: $15 per hour and the right to unionize without retaliation. The movement began in New York City, but it quickly spread across the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and even through the historically anti-union South.
Their argument is that $7.73 (the average hourly wage for a fast-food worker) is not a living wage. The median fast-food worker is about 28-years-old, and more than a fourth of those employed by fast-food chains have children. 70% work part time with something called “zero hour contracts.” This means employees are not guaranteed a set number of hours during any given week, and can be penalized with hour reduction for refusing to stay late or work on a day off, calling in sick, or participating in protests. This makes workers extremely dependent on their employers, as well as vulnerable to exploitation.