Photos: Oakland fast food workers join strike with #FastFoodGlobal movement

Fast food workers protest in Morocco.
Photo courtesy of @LowPayIsNotOK

Last year, Bay Area fast food workers marched for higher wages. Today hundreds marched against Oakland restaurants serving Whoppers and Big Macs again, but now they've super-sized their movement.

Today [Thurs/15], fast food workers worldwide rose up for fair wages and the right to unionize. The protest spanned 150 US cities, as well as 33 countries across the world. Twitter flooded with photos of protesters in Argentina, France, Morocco, and Japan. 

And protesting fast food workers in the Bay Area increased in number thanks to new workers joining the movement in Pleasanton, Livermore, and Oakland, workers told us.

The Oakland march picketed a McDonald's on East 12th Street, and a Burger King at on 13th and Broadway, among other locations.

Last year, KFC worker Jose Martinez helped organize the Oakland march. Since then, he said, his bosses have shown little inclination to help workers.

"Nothing has changed," Martinez said. "I've been working there four years, and I haven't had a raise -- $8.25 is nothing, I can't live on that."

Martinez is a student, seemingly fitting in the conservative national narrative of workers who don't deserve to earn more. But Martinez says the pay is not enough to pay for basic needs while he attends school.

And many workers we talked to before today's strike also support their families. 

"I haven't had a raise in three years," a McDonald's worker who identified herself as Markeisha told us just after she went out on strike from an Oakland McDonald's in December. Markeisha said she has two children and she is their sole provider.

Another common misconception is that workers are merely fighting for higher wages. Although raises are among their needs, fast food workers also contend they are a vulnerable workforce. Wage theft, low salaries, slashed hours, and punitive measures for speaking out are among the grievances fast food workers allege against their bosses at chains including McDonald's, Burger King, and Taco Bell.

"One thing we found when talking to fast food workers was wage theft issues were high," Service Employees International Union Local 1021 Political Director Chris Daly told the Guardian. "When you're making $8-11 an hour, a couple shifts can be the difference between paying the rent or not."

Workers we talked to at the last strike alleged their jobs at McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken paid so low they had to also enroll in CalFresh (food stamps) to afford food. That sort of government subsidy for big business puts a strain on the taxpayer, former Labor Secretary and current UC Berkeley professor Robert Reich noted on his blog.

McDonald's alleged last year's actions were strikes-in-name-only. "To right-size the headlines, however, the events taking place are not strikes. Outside groups are traveling to McDonald's and other outlets to stage rallies," McDonald's wrote in a press statement.

Counter to the corporate narrative, the Bay Guardian witnessed multiple Oakland McDonald's workers joining picket lines (captured on video).

But it seems McDonald's is worried about how the protests will affect its bottom line. As first reported by Salon, McDonald's public SEC filings report the company list protests and strikes in its "Risk Factors and Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements."

"The impact of campaigns by labor organizations and activists," is one forward looking risk to the company's future earnings, McDonald's wrote in their filing, "including through the use of social media and other mobile communications and applications, to promote adverse perceptions of the quick-service category of the IEO segment or our brand, management, suppliers or franchisees."

Below are images from #FastFoodGlobal strikes and protests in Oakland and around the world.


bargaining power and necessity.

Who gives a crap if Burger King employees go on strike? Only other dirt poor people eat there anyway, so they are simply stiffing their own kind.

Fire them all and hire some more guys. When you have zero skills, you don't go playing the ass.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 4:27 pm

could give a shit about this issue.

I don't eat fast food because it is terrible so whatever they do has no effect on me.

I would love to see a picket outside the McDonalds next to the hall of justice. All the poor losers going to and from jail and all the city union idiots crossing the line would make for an interesting scene.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 5:02 pm

Employees cannot expect a raise.regardless of work history.but the minimum wage should not get ridiculous.that is why the boss is the boss.if you want to be the boss.just step out of the company as long as you do have a backup plan.otherwise just stay and be tolerant...because you have bills to pay,support the family,feed the kids ,and get them a good education.before all this these workers should of plan ahead than letting their egos step ahead of them.

About raising the minimum wage.raise it like 25¢ to 50¢ from $8 to $15 is just ridiculous.if the wages go skyhigh who would give business to you anymore.not many.the food,the merchandise will go skyhigh too.that is why I am not always looking forward to the new year every is normal that prices go up slowly.but when prices go up immediately...somebody is going to freak out and get a heart attack.looks like you workers have to cut back on something.if you want to continue surviving.your big break will come...but we just don't know when.there is no easy way out to match up with the rich.not having enough money is no good excuse.when all you people just have ego and pride full speed ahead with no backup plan.the world is not as small as you think it is.try walking from manhattan to is pretty far!

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 7:41 pm

Happy Meal McMar must feel so conflicted. On one hand, he reflexively supports the SEIU and BIG LABOR, but on the other hand his ultimate goal is for no one to buy these companies' products thus making all the aforementioned go from low income to no income.

Either way, "NO TOY FOR YOU!" [insert image of Eric Mar getting a boner at the thought].

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 10:15 pm

He'll just do what he always does when it comes to figuring out what to do. Ask his 10 year old daughter.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 10:24 pm

Anyone know when the McRib is coming back? Now that's good eatin'.

Posted by Chromefields on May. 16, 2014 @ 7:16 am
Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2014 @ 7:21 am

I dunno bout the McRib, but you can still get a Triple Down at most KFC places.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2014 @ 12:55 pm

Many of these workers have had the same job and pay for 3 or 4 years. Are you telling me that in 3-4 years, they could not have learned a job skill to get them a better paying job? Temp agencies pay $15/hour if you have basic proficiency in excel. A skill that can be learned in a 3 month night course a couple nights a week. Why don't the reporters ever ask these workers how many other jobs they have applied for in the past week, month, year, etc.... How many of these workers have sought to improve there work skills by taking night courses? Until these numbers are studied, it's hard to say who is correct.

Bay Guardian, please do a survey of folks that work fast food for 3 or more years. Ask them how many jobs per year they have applied to that pay a higher wage. What skills did they add to their resume that would help get them that job? If we find out that these workers have done this effort and are still not finding better paying work then we can discuss raising the minimum wage. Until then, the jury is still out and all we are working with are uneducated opinions on both sides.

Posted by Guest on May. 19, 2014 @ 9:40 am

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