McDonald’s Strike for Workers’ Rights

McDonalds' workers on strike.


Leon Neal

On May 19, workers at McDonald’s will strike as they continue their demand for workers’ rights to be prioritized over lining the pockets of CEOs at the expense of their employees. This isn’t the first strike for McDonald’s workers, nor are they alone.

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In 2019, Bernie Sanders marched with McDonald’s workers in Ohio. I had the honor of joining Cenk, TYT crew, and our TYT Community. We were there to ask Democratic Presidential candidates to sign the Progressive Economic Pledge, which includes higher wages. In 2012, McDonald’s employees joined other fast food workers to fight for the right to unionize. This last weekend, people started posting pictures on social media of fast food restaurants closing due to employees striking.

The number of fast food worker strikes throughout history are too many to consider here, but even if they don’t all get the attention they deserve, each effort is vitally important. As progress goes, it always takes a lot of organizing and persistent efforts for real change to happen.

The fight for $15/hr minimum wage barely scratches the surface of what it would actually cost to allow workers to pay their bills. While raising it to $15/hr would definitely benefit workers, and is why I fully support it, even that falls short in every single state in the U.S.

Take California, for example - even though California is only one of very few states that has passed a $15/hr minimum wage law, it won’t be in full effect until 2023. If an effective minimum wage (meaning you can pay your most basic bills) were to be California law right now, it would be about $19/hr for a single person with no kids, and $40/hr for a single parent with 1 kid. Meanwhile, McDonald's is paying their California employees $11/hr.

In Florida, the minimum wage will be $15/hr by 2026. That rate would actually be a living wage today for a single person with no kids (most certainly not in 2026 however), but would have to be $31/hr for a single parent with 1 child. Currently, McDonald's is paying Florida workers $10/hr.

It doesn’t matter what political ideology you identify with, corporate greed does not discriminate. Guaranteed there are Trump supporters working for McDonald's. How on earth is this possible?

The establishment peddles their talking points into both right-wing and so-called left-wing news stations, manipulating their viewers to believe that even $15/hr is too much for our economy to handle. All they need to do is make a fancy commercial, create talking points that are proven to hit a nerve for their faithful viewers, pump out a bunch of news articles… and watch the working classes claw at one another’s throats.

People complaining about the establishment, while repeating their expensive talking points, tell us to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps. What they fail to be told by their ruthless leaders is that their ancestors pulled themselves up by the government’s bootstraps under President Roosevelt’s New Deal.

A Trump-loving former friend of mine ended our friendship after he read my policies when I ran for office. Prior to my candidacy, we engaged in productive conversations, and he was constantly surprised about how often we agreed. He decided to cut ties once the policies themselves were in black and white, triggering the FOX News talking points taking up space in his head. Once we couldn’t banter in person and talk through the important details, it was easy for him to tell me off from the comfort of his keyboard, and then block me.

He’s one of those bootstraps theorists, and during a discussion we had about minimum wage, I brought up the fact that the reason he’s standing here today with the success that he and his parents and grandparents had was because they pulled themselves up by the New Deal bootstraps. He was forced to concede.

He tried to save face by arguing that even though the New Deal worked, it should have been temporary and is now the cause of our economic and cultural downward spiral, enabling people to suck off the teat of the very government that helped him to be where he is today. We talked about President Reagan, trickle down economics, Glass-Steagall, Citizens United, and a host of other decisions made after the New Deal that he was conveniently leaving out of his bootstraps theory in order to justify his indignation towards others.

Opponents of minimum wage like to throw around anecdotal retorts as facts, such as claiming that the minimum wage was designed for teenagers entering the workforce and, therefore, does not need to be a living wage. Not true. They state that people are just lazy today and don’t want to work. Also incorrect. Anecdotes don’t get to replace actual facts of history and well-documented research about the plight of the working class and how low wages, poor working conditions, and lack of healthcare contribute to the psychological and physical deterioration of our families.

Even though $15/hr isn’t enough in many states, I support the fight in this ongoing battle against greed and propaganda. Even though I believe in the complete package - a living wage that rises with the cost of living, healthcare as a human right for everyone, quality childcare for all, paid maternity and paternity leave, unions, subsidizing small businesses instead of giants - I will continue to support all of the efforts of workers to claim what is rightfully theirs.

To be honest, this won’t be hard for me. I rarely eat fast food anymore, save the occasional craving for a stomach ache to complain about, or running out of time and energy to cook something healthy. I definitely will not be indulging in McDonald’s on May 19, but I really think we should protest eating fast food until they all allow their workers to unionize and pay them an actual living wage. It will be good for our health and the environment, but if we do it loudly and proudly, it will also be good for our communities and our economy.

Will you refuse to eat at McDonald’s on May 19 in support of workers' rights? Sign the petition.

Many thanks to TYT Army volunteer and TYT member @Jessica from Task Force 2 for sharing this story with us. You inspired me to write this!

Our beloved TYT Army volunteers who completed research about minimum wage made writing this article far easier than it otherwise would have been. I am so grateful for each and every one of you.

Let me know in the comments below -- Did you sign the petition?