Fast food workers protest working conditions

Emily Bell

Click above to see more photos from the Fast Food workers’ protest.

Twenty-five year old Kentucky Fried Chicken employee Shenita Simon was injured in April of last year.  Both of her hands were permanently damanged when they were burned with water 90 degress above boiling point. In compensation, she received $58.

When she was approached last year to participate in the cause, she didn’t hesitate.

“We’re out here today asking for $15 and a union,” she said. “They’re a billion-dollar, million-dollar company, and they don’t get simple things like oven mitts. That’s what we’re fighting for. We’re fighting for protection against injuries. We’re fighting for protection against cutting our hours, no lunch breaks, simple things that are necessary on a job, that we don’t have.”

Many fast-food workers and community supporters rallied with Simon in Union Square on Monday after workers in 60 cities including New York, Boston and Los Angeles lobbied corporations for a right to raise the minimum wage to $15 and create a union.

Fast Food Forward, a New York City-based movement, organized the rally along with the New York Communities for Change.

Multiple community members and politicians stepped onto a platform to speak. Mayoral candidates Anthony Weiner, Bill de Blasio, Christine Quinn, John Liu and Bill Thompson and New York State Senator Liz Krueger, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer arrived to support workers.

“I know it’s not a political event in that sense, but I just want you to know something simple,” de Blasio said. “If I had the honor of being mayor of New York City, I will have the honor of standing with you at rallies like this until you get the justice you deserve.”

While workers were on strike across the country, the Union Square rally focused on the local community. According to a press release from Fast Food Forward, there are 50,000 fast-food workers in New York City, the majority of whom make $7.25 an hour.

Many organizations and groups joined in the rally, including, Latino Justice and members of NYU’s Student and Labor Action Movement.

“Unfortunately, companies don’t create quality jobs out of the goodness of their hearts. Workers have always had to fight for living wages and benefits,” said SLAM student activist Caitlin MacLaren in a written statement. “A bunch of us from the NYU Student and Labor Action Movement are supporting the striking workers today because we know that if fast-food workers can fight and win, a lot more might be possible for all workers in this country.”

Emily Bell is a news editor. Email her at [email protected].