Los Angeles Times Article

LA Times Article

This is a reprint of an LA Times article we hope to include in the book. It will later be altered to only include a few quotes under the fair use clause. My Notes and writings are in bold italics. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-fast-food-workers-strike-20140903-story.html#page=1 Dozens of fast-food workers from Los Angeles to Manhattan were arrested as they escalated a fight for better pay Thursday with strikes, rallies and acts of civil disobedience. Police took 10 people into custody after the protesters linked arms and sat down in front of a McDonald’s in downtown Los Angeles. The sit-in capped a midday march through the urban core by hundreds of workers and their supporters.

When this was happening the reaction on the streets and on social media was mostly negative. Sure, these people who protested had a few supporters, namely their friends and family. But the people that were inconvenienced by their protest were not happy. They were interfered with hours more of traffic in their daily commute during rush hour in Los Angeles and New York, both cities that are already heavily congested. On social media people were angry at protesters, not least because they broke the law by disturbing the peace, standing in front of traffic, and not obeying police officers’ instructions.

They were also making life more difficult for commuters, people that had nothing to do with the involved parties. Most people understand that a major increase of the minimum wage would only accomplish 3 things, none of which are what these people want to happen and all of which are the unintended consequences of minimum wage increases we have to endure over the years. 1) An increase in food cost to the customers, thereby decreasing the total amount of customers we serve, or at least decreasing the frequency they visit us, both of which would translate to less employees needed and people being fired and/or not hired.

2) Decreased hours in work. Managers and owners would have to slash their hours.

There is no way owners of businesses or restaurants can stay competitive and keep the same low prices if these workers keep getting minimum wage increases. If the hours are not cut back, the weakest employees will be let go. These are the unintended consequences of these laws. Restaurant industry profits are already extremely slim as it is. The quote you will shortly reads from them saying “the restaurant industry is doing great” is just a simple show of ignorance on their part. Since they don’t own restaurants they are completely unaware of the costs and risks associated with running these businesses, and just because we are busy doesn’t mean we are printing money, as that statement suggests. 

3) If mimiim wage keeps going up, the cost of living will go up along with it. Any savings or additions in wage will be met with equal force by the laws of inflation. The alternative is that people work hard and go to school. Increase your skill level, work hard, and work your way up the ladder just like the rest of society has to do. You’re not special. This attitude of “take more by force” is an extreme put off for most.

In San Diego, 11 marchers were arrested for blocking an intersection in the blue-collar neighborhood of City Heights. They were cited for unlawful assembly and released. Rallies and sit-ins occurred outside McDonald’s restaurants across the country, including Rockford, Ill.; Hartford, Conn.; Boston; Philadelphia; Atlanta; and Miami. Elsewhere, 19 fast-food workers were arrested in New York; 42 in Detroit; 23 in Chicago; 11 in Little Rock, Ark.; and 10 in Las Vegas. Fast-food workers rally Fast-food workers seeking higher pay rally outside a South Los Angeles McDonald on Thursday. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times) In downtown Los Angeles, protesters seeking wages of $15 an hour staged a lunchtime march before converging in front of a McDonald’s on Broadway.

To the sounds of a beating drum, they cycled through chants such as “We want 15 and a union!” and “Si se puede!” After police warned the crowd to stop blocking traffic lanes, nine fast food workers and a minister remained seated. They were arrested and led away, their hands bound with plastic zip-ties behind their backs. It was just one of several demonstrations that were planned in the Southland. Before dawn, more than 100 workers converged on a McDonald’s in L.A.’s Exposition Park to join the nationwide protests. They went inside the store for 10 minutes as workers stood stone-faced behind the cash registers. The protesters held up signs and chanted slogans like “Get up! Get down! Fast-food workers run this town!” near a scrum of media trucks outside the McDonald’s.

Fanny Velazquez, 36, said she was participating in the protest 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, she said. 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. A series of protests funded in part by the Service Employees International Union and local activist groups have sought to spotlight the plight of low-wage workers and push for higher pay by staging protests and walkouts in more than 100 cities in the one-day demonstration.

Fast-food workers protest in Los Angeles Fast-food workers protest at a McDonald’s in Exposition Park. In San Diego, several hundred fast-food workers and their supporters marched past McDonald’s, Burger King and Jack in the Box restaurants. The protesters are “fighting for what we believe is right,” said the Rev. Lee Hill of the United Church of Christ. The San Diego protest comes as business leaders there are attempting to qualify a measure for the ballot to overturn the City Council’s recent decision to raise the local minimum wage to $11.50 by 2017. In New York, a crowd of about 300 converged outside a McDonald’s near Times Square at the height of morning rush hour, briefly blocking West 42nd Street. Police arrested about two dozen of the protesters.

And in Chicago, almost two dozen protesters were arrested near a McDonald’s where 150 gathered. McDonald’s said in a statement that it respected “everyone’s rights to peacefully protest” and supported “paying our valued employees fair wages.” The fast-food chain said the minimum wage discussion affects the entire country, not just one company, and should be considered within a broader context of issues, including the effects of the Affordable Care Act. “We believe that any minimum wage increase should be implemented over time so that the impact on owners of small- and medium-sized businesses — like the ones who own and operate the majority of our restaurants — is manageable,” the company said. McDonald’s pointed out that it does not set wages for its more than 3,000 franchisees in the U.S. Burger King also said it does not make wage or scheduling decisions for its franchisees, which operate nearly all of its restaurants.

In order to fully understand and appreciate this statement from McDonald’s we must first truly understand who McDonald’s REAL CUSTOMER is. McDonald’s is no longer in the business of making extremely high quality food or serving the customer as best or fast as possible. They are in the business of selling FRANCHISES and renting out REAL ESTATE. Since they own the land and they do not pay these people (the franchise owners do), they really are not a key player in this transaction at all.

The key players are the FRANCHISE OWNERS. Since they are the ones that will pay these employees, they are the ones that set wages, and they are the ones that will ultimately be affected by minimum wage increases. Mc Donald’s Corporation will not be affected at all. They will still make money from franchise owners and collect rent, month after month, regardless of what happens between the owners and the employees. Their REAL customer is the FRANCHISE OWNER. Think of that next time before you complain about the quality of food. 

Sue Hensley, spokeswoman for the National Restaurant Assn., said the Thursday job actions were part of a “multimillion-dollar campaign” orchestrated by labor groups that are trying to boost their “dwindling membership.” Fast-food workers protest Fast-food workers block the driveway to a McDonald’s on Martin Luther King Boulevard in Los Angeles as part of a nationwide protest for higher wages. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times) “The activities have proven to be orchestrated union PR events where the vast majority of participants are activists and paid demonstrators,” she wrote in an email. “Restaurants continue to be a critical employer that trains America’s workforce and provides a pathway towards upward mobility and success.” Many fast-food chains and independent restaurants have said that a $15 hourly wage would lead to big price increases on their menus or make it impossible to eke out a profit.

Some industry watchers say that restaurants may try to cut costs by slashing hours for employees or reducing their workforces, ultimately hurting the same people who are fighting for better pay. Edgar Gonzalez, 22, of Inglewood is hopeful that the protests will help ensure a better future for his family. He and his girlfriend both work at McDonald’s — she is a manager, while he works in maintenance.

Together, they can still barely afford to cover all their expenses, especially with a 4-month-old daughter, he said. “Sometimes we find whatever change there is to buy formula, wipes, diapers,” Gonzalez said. He said they often make the choice between paying rent and buying healthy food to eat. Workers at Burger King and other fast-food eateries in Los Angeles were also planning to walk out Thursday to demand the $15-an-hour wage, organizers said. “Fast food is an industry that is doing exceedingly well, and workers feel they are in a good position to bargain for $15 an hour,” said Marqueece Harris-Dawson, president of Community Coalition, a local advocacy group in South L.A. that is participating in the local protests.

“Workers of different stripes have been pressing to raise the conversation about the low end of the wage scale.” Home-care workers are also joining in some Thursday protests in an effort to widen the movement, although none are participating in Los Angeles. Hours after the morning protest in Manhattan, marchers gathered again on the busy corner of 8th Avenue and 56th Street, where several were swiftly arrested and taken away in a police van after they lay down on the pavement and blocked traffic. Naquashia LeGrand, a KFC employee in Brooklyn, said she works 12 hours a week and earns $8 an hour. In three years on the job she has gotten one raise, she said, from $7.25 an hour, which was the previous state minimum wage, to the current $8.

“Full-time or part-time, we deserve a livable wage,” said LeGrand, who added that she would love to work more hours. “I’m here today, honestly, to better the future for the next generation,” she said, accusing big corporations of taking advantage of workers like herself. Lunchtime diners at a nearby open-air bar watched the protest and arrests, which lasted no more than half an hour. “Good for them,” one man in a business suit said who was weaving his way through protesters as they chanted and disrupted traffic.

“Everyone deserves to make a living. ” The fight for a living wage and higher minimum pay has gained steam this year as rallies, sit-ins and strikes have raised awareness of the issue. In June, Seattle leaders voted to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, the highest minimum of any metropolis in the country. The Los Angeles Unified School District signed a contract in July to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2016, which will boost the earnings of its lowest-paid employees, including custodians and cafeteria workers. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is pushing for a $13.25 minimum wage for all workers in L.A. by 2017. California’s current minimum wage is $9 an hour. On Labor Day, President Obama touched on the fast-food movement during a speech in Milwaukee.

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