11 Arrested at San Diego Fast-Food Worker Protest

by on September 5, 2014 · 0 comments

in Civil Rights

Local strikers among thousands walking off their jobs in 150 cities as movement intensifies

From Press Release of Center on Policy Initiatives

Nine San Diego fast-food workers and two community supporters were arrested Thursday morning as part of a national strike calling for wages of $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation.

Dozens of striking workers from 19 restaurants gathered in City Heights, along with about 300 supporters, for a peaceful demonstration in front of a McDonald’s, a Burger King, and a Jack in the Box. They rallied at the intersection over Interstate 15, briefly blocking traffic. The workers were arrested for civil disobedience after they sat in the middle of the intersection, linking arms and chanting “We believe that we will win.”

Before he was arrested, McDonald’s worker Jay Ames said he was willing to make that sacrifice for a better future for himself and his coworkers. “I’m tired of making $9 an hour. I can’t live off it. None of us can. I’m tired of being afraid I might be homeless because I can’t afford the rent here.”

Marie Kaio, a Burger King employee for 35 years, also was arrested. She said by the end of each month she has to survive on bologna sandwiches and food from churches and her family. “I love my job and I always welcome people with a smile, but $9 an hour isn’t enough,” Kaio said at a 6 a.m. rally. “I’m going out on strike because I deserve $15 and a union.”

All 11 arrested were released within a few hours. Here’s a short CPI video showing the action and arrests.
The action was part of a national day of strikes and civil disobedience in 150 cities from coast to coast. Two years after the fast-food “Fight for $15” movement began in New York City, President Obama on Monday praised “fast-food workers organizing to lift wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity.”

San Diego City Councilmember Marti Emerald and California Assemblywoman Lorena González both addressed the workers at the morning rally. Emerald noted that the average two-bedroom apartment in San Diego rents for $1354 a month, while a minimum-wage job, even with full-time hours, pays only about $1500 a month before taxes, leaving very little for food, medicine, clothing or anything else. She warned voters not to sign petitions now circulating that would block a modest minimum wage increase passed by the City Council.

Fast food is a $200 billion a year industry, yet is one of the largest employers of low-wage workers. A recent report shows the industry has by far the largest disparity between worker and CEO pay. Fast-food jobs pay so little that a majority of industry workers are forced to rely on public assistance.

Thursday’s strike comes a month after the National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel determined that McDonald’s is jointly responsible for wages and working conditions at its franchises. Fast food corporations repeatedly have tried to sidestep workers’ calls by claiming local franchisees bear full responsibility.

See StrikeFastFood

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