Workers at Milwaukee fast food, retail chains walk off jobs


Hundreds of workers at some of Milwaukee’s largest fast food and retail chains walked off their jobs on May 15 as they demanded the right to form a union without fear of retaliation and wages of $15 an hour.

A news release from the Milwaukee Workers Organizing Committee said employees at some McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Simply Fashion and Taco Bell operations walked off the job. Milwaukee is the fifth city hit by low-wage worker strikes in five weeks. Workers at fast food restaurants and retail stores also have gone on strike in New York City, Chicago, St. Louis and Detroit.

Also, workers nationwide have demonstrated recently against retail giant Walmart in a campaign called the Black Friday Strike.

“We’re on strike because we’re tired of struggling just to survive,” said Kenneth Mack, a McDonald’s employee. “There is no reason why I should go to work every day and not make enough to take care of myself and my daughter.”

“Jobs that pay $15 an hour can save lives in Milwaukee,” said Javon Walker, an employee at Old Country Buffet. “Too many people – youth especially – turn to crime because they don’t make enough to make ends meet. Good paying jobs will change lives in this city for the better.”

The Milwaukee Workers Organizing Committee estimates that about 100,000 family-sustaining manufacturing jobs have been lost in metro Milwaukee since the early 1980s. This has left some workers to rely on low-paying jobs in fast food or retail.

Yet, the workers maintain, there’s no justification for such low wages – minimum wage is $7.25 an hour – since fast food is a $200 billion a year industry and retail is a $4.7 trillion industry.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology report stated that a single adult in Milwaukee with one child needs to earn nearly $21 an hour to get by.

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